Top networking trends for 2012

IXIA

40- and 100-Gigabit Ethernet (GE): Virtualized servers will generate more traffic than 10 gigabits per second (Gbps) connections can handle. Currently, only a few data centre switch vendors support 40Gbps ports. In 2012, we will see most major NEMs offer higher speeds in their top-of-rack and end-of-row switches, and major server manufacturers offer 40GE interfaces in their high-performance servers. Development will be largely fuelled by the availability of low-cost QSFP+ interfaces. Look for 100Gbsp ports on new offerings for links between core switches. Testing traffic and application delivery at 40/100Gbps speeds (over various distances) will be required to ensure new hardware implementations can meet scalability and quality of service (QoS) requirements.
 
Converged fiber channel and Ethernet networks: The widespread use of low-cost 10Gbps Ethernet networking, coupled with new data centre bridging (DCB) and Fiber Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) technologies, is finally making LAN/SAN convergence and its economic benefits a reality. Thus far, only Brocade, Cisco, HP and Mellanox have announced FCoE support on their data centre switches. In 2012, we expect to see many additional switch vendors jumping on this trend with FCoE offerings of their own. Conformance and performance benchmark testing will play a significant role in differentiating switch equipment based on overall scalability, traffic prioritization, low latency and storage I/O performance.
 
Internet security: Zombies – compromised computers ready to act as robot attack systems – are ticking time bombs throughout the Internet. For example, the recent attacks on the WikiLeaks servers in Sweden demonstrate network vulnerability. The latest unified threat management (UTM) devices include multiple security mechanisms: firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDS/IPS), anti-virus software, anti-spam and URL filters and VPN gateways. Ixia predicts expanding distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks will cause NEMs, service providers and enterprises to validate that their network security is air-tight, up to date and doesn’t impact network performance.
 
Cloud computing: In 2012, Ixia predicts that cloud providers will start to compete on more than price, highlighting reliability, security and responsiveness. To do this, they will need to test their overall compute, storage and network scalability. Cloud providers need to ensure their infrastructure is ready to offer high availability for all customers with different QoS levels for different tiers of service. Enterprise customers are also looking for ways to validate that their cloud providers are meeting service level agreements (SLAs) and shortening schedules to deploy applications in the cloud.

Only by testing all aspects of cloud data-centers can one expose bottlenecks and optimize cloud infrastructures. Uncovering sources of performance degradation include: 1) testing data centre storage I/O in converged LAN/SAN environments, 2) access and aggregation switching tiers at 10/40GE, 3) core switching tiers at 100GE (data-centre interconnect), 4) virtualization layers with application workloads, and 5) security effectiveness and accuracy. The consumers of cloud services will also need test solutions that can advise how much and where compute resources are needed to deliver adequate user quality of experience (QoE).

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Commentary

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Matt Walker / MTN Consulting

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