We've been so heavily focused on data center networks in recent years, that we've barely highlighted innovation in the campus LAN -- and there's been plenty worth noting.
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- Management of the campus LAN as one switch stack: In the past two years, multiple vendors have launched software that enables distributed switches to be managed as one stack. Brocade announced this month that it would launch its HyperEdge software for FCX and ICX switches, which establishes a single management IP address for all switches on the network, so they can be treated as one stack. Brocade is late to the table, especially considering that the software won't be available for almost a year. In 2011, HP announced new LAN switches as part of a strategy to flatten the campus network. Engineers can link up to four of these switch chassis together and manage them as one stack.
- Software-driven, intelligent campus LAN with baked-in management and security features: Cisco has declared an end to the days of dumb wiring closet switches. Cisco's campus LAN switches have security and management services built-in with MediaNet for video optimization, EnergyWise for power management, and TrustSec for security. Cisco’s campus switches are also part of the vendor's BYOD strategy. The switches are managed through Cisco Prime, which includes the Identity Services Engine (ISE) that integrates wired and wireless LAN management, handles mobile device access control and includes user access policy control.
- Quality of Service at the campus LAN: Now that applications such as IP telephony, video conferencing and virtual desktop must be delivered to mobile devices as well as the desktop, a new level of LAN QoS is emerging for application optimization. Look for traffic shaping, rate limiting and other optimization methods to be extended to the edge as we reported this month in our piece, LAN QoS: Access switches get intelligent for high-stakes applications.
This is only the beginning of a trend toward adding intelligence to the campus LAN. In the coming year, we're likely to see a software-driven approach to the LAN that could make it even less complex to manage, while more intricate in features.