Trends in networking 2012: Top ten Fast Packets

These top ten Fast Packets from SearchNetworking.com contributors and editors reflect on the most conversation-worthy networking trends in 2012.

Were you once an FCoE zealot? Do you think OpenFlow is the end-all of software-defined networking? Our Fast Packet bloggers challenge you to think again. Looking back on networking 2012, we've seen the emergence of stunning new technologies, but not all of them will be what vendors promise. Whether it's SDN strategies, network fabric, mobility management or strategies to reduce network power consumption, our editors and contributors have shared their opinion over the year. Check out these top ten Fast Packets of 2012 and see what SearchNetworking.com had to say about trends in networking this year.

FCoE face-off: Ready to use or unreliable?

SearchNetworking Staff

Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) is a converged storage technology that many believe is ready for primetime, but others remain wary of its reliability.

In this point-counterpoint Fast Packet, Stuart Miniman of Wikibon explains that FCoE network convergence will start at the edge and later move  throughout every rack using 10 Gigabit Ethernet technology and data center bridging. On the counterpoint side, Stephen Foskett of Tech Field Day discusses how FCoE at the edge may be a step in the right direction toward network convergence, but end-to-end FCoE will never work.

Read more about this Fibre Channel over Ethernet face-off.

Networking 2012: With Plexxi's SDN, why bother with network fabric?

Ethan Banks, Fast Packet Blogger

Massachusetts-based Plexxi provides a software-defined network (SDN) strategy that takes on data center fabrics by figuring out endpoints that need to communicate with each other, and ensuring the network path is available.

Plexxi says it can solve choke-points in network fabric with its combination of Ethernet switch, controller and application program interface (API) for network programmability. Plexxi's strategy is centered on a network model that will ensure the network doesn't get in the way of what applications need to do.

Read more about Plexxi's SDN strategy.

Is Cisco doing enough to reduce network power consumption?

Greg Ferro, Contributor

Space and power consumption are two major problems in today's data center, and many networking vendors aren't doing enough to solve those problems, according to Fast Packet blogger Greg Ferro.

In this Fast Packet, Ferro explains how Cisco's products consume more power than others. So what's the solution? Cisco should use low-power design techniques and modern chip die packaging, Ferro says.

Read more on how Cisco's could reduce network power consumption.

In software-defined networks, applications define the network

Shamus McGillicuddy, News Director

As SDN takes shape, terms such as "software-defined cloud networking" and "software-defined data centers" are plentiful. But the one term that should get some serious attention is "application-defined networking," according to SearchNetworking news director Shamus McGillicuddy.

This term refers to the idea that applications control the network environment. In this Fast Packet, McGillicuddy explores the concept of building software-defined networks that are specifically reactive to the needs of application performance, and he wonders whether networking vendors are ready to execute.

Read more about how applications define the network in SDN.

Software-defined networking is not OpenFlow, companies proclaim

Rivka Gewirtz Little, Executive Editor

While SDN and OpenFlow are often mentioned in the same breath, several companies, such as Nicira and Cisco, are making strong efforts to explain that SDN is about network programmability, and that can happen with or without OpenFlow. 

Cisco is preaching its Cisco ONE technology, which relies on network overlays to connect the virtual and physical environments. Meanwhile, VMware's SDN strategy focuses more on using virtual abstractions of firewalls, load balancers and VXLAN overlays for network control.

Even though these companies may not be using OpenFlow in their SDN strategies, it doesn't necessarily mean they don't find the technology important.

Read more about the difference between SDN and OpenFlow.

Northbound OpenFlow applications up next: Look out, Cisco!

Brad Casemore, Contributor

This year, the Open Network Foundation (ONF) announced its SDN focus on northbound OpenFlow applications with four new initiatives including northbound application interface, or NB-API.

While ONF looks at NB-API within the context of OpenFlow and OpenFlow controllers, Cisco views this strategy a bit differently with its Cisco ONE and onePK API initiatives. In this Fast Packet, Brad Casemore discusses how ONF's northbound applications are a threat to Cisco's vision.

Read more about northbound OpenFlow applications.

Cisco OpenFlow: Not likely for Cisco software-defined networks

Rivka Gewirtz Little, Executive Editor

At Cisco Live London this year, it became clear that the networking giant is headed toward SDN, but not necessarily using the OpenFlow protocol. Instead, Cisco will focus on software for network programmability, virtualization and automation.

While Cisco continues to flesh out its SDN strategy, OpenFlow supporters might not wait around to see what evolves.

Read more about Cisco's SDN strategy and OpenFlow.

Application networking: Cisco may be killing ACE, but not WAAS

Rivka Gewirtz Little, Executive Editor

Read more of SearchNetworking's Fast Packets

Is VXLAN awesome or brain-dead?

Do cloud application performance tools work?

Top five virtualization capacity planning problems

While Cisco is retiring its load balancer, Application Control Engine (ACE), it is trying to the set the record straight about its commitment to its Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) business, which focuses on WAN optimization.

The two networking technologies are often coupled in conversation because many third-party network services companies sell both Application Delivery Controllers (ADCs) and WAN optimization. What's more, bloggers have also added to the confusion by referring to both technologies in the same context. All of this has caused some misunderstanding over whether Cisco is also abandoning WAAS.

Read more about Cisco's commitment to WAAS.

Virtual desktop infrastructure vs. data container for BYOD management

Keith Townsend, Contributor

As bring your own device (BYOD) becomes more prevalent in the enterprise, finding a method of providing secure access to enterprise data over personal devices is more important than ever. Some people opt for a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) as a solution for secure BYOD, while others choose to use native mobile applications with a virtualized data container. So which is right?

Fast Packet blogger, Keith Townsend explores the pros and cons to both VDI and virtualized data containers for securing BYOD.  

Read more on VDI vs. data containers for BYOD management.

'Software-defined networking washing' is the new cloud washing

Rivka Gewirtz Little, Executive Editor

Every vendor wants to be a significant part of the thriving SDN movement, but that doesn't mean all vendors are offering actual SDN products and solutions. In this Fast Packet, executive editor Rivka Gewirtz Little explores the topic of "SDN washing," which refers to this year's wave of network product releases that were promoted as SDN, when in actuality, they were only slightly associated with the technology.

Read more about these technologies and software-defined networking washing.

This was first published in December 2012

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