The networking industry underwent dramatic changes in all facets -- from faster switching to ambitious wireless initiatives -- in 2013. SearchNetworking covered those developments, and more, over the past 12 months. Below, the eight most popular enterprise technology stories that appeared on SearchNetworking:
- In November, Cisco launched the Nexus 9000 series of top-of-rack and chassis switches with its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) product suite. But the switches, which run in a slimmed-down ACI mode that allows them to be used in a software-defined networking framework, raised concerns among some Cisco customers about the future of their existing data center investments. Nexus 7000 and 7700 models, which don't participate in ACI, could only be used as interconnect devices. Users and analysts discussed the impact ACI will have on the enterprise and data center market, and whether or not Cisco might do an about-face on its product roadmap.
- Also in November, during the Open Compute switch initiative media roundtable, Facebook announced it would demonstrate three bare-metal switch designs during the Open Compute annual meeting in January. Facebook received designs from Intel Corp., Broadcom Corp. and Mellanox Technologies, along with a boot loader from Cumulus Networks. Intel's switch design was based on its Open Network Platform reference design, which would run on its Wind River Linux distribution. Broadcom contributed its widely used Trident II silicon, while Mellanox relied on its open source hardware and software and said it would make its Ethernet switches available as bare-metal devices.
- Cisco used October's NYC Interop to unveil its partnership with Facebook to allow user authentication through Facebook logins, which would simplify guest Wi-Fi authentication. Facebook Wi-Fi, launched the previous year, would be combined with Cisco's Mobility Services Engine to offer appealing services to IT organizations in retail, hospitality, public service and large event venues. However, it could be useful to other network administrators in the future. The partnership would provide faster and easier Wi-Fi access to the user while offering credentials to give the network administrator some control over the identity of the person.
- VMWare Inc.'s release of its NSX network virtualization platform ignited fears of a possible rift between server administrators and network engineers who worried that admins would take control over the networks. Analysts were quick to stress, however, that NSX did not need to result in a turf war over network operations. One approach to ease the tension: explaining to network engineers that NSX could, in fact, make their lives easier by eliminating some of the tedious processes of their job.
- The August 2013 e-zine article discussed the key considerations governing network monitoring and the steps enterprises are taking to shore up their network management systems in the face of ever-more complex operating environments. One enterprise, Cardinal Health Inc., replaced legacy monitoring tools with new software that not only measured hardware operations and network performance, but also provided analytics that let the medical provider improve its internal business practices. Other organizations profiled in the article launched initiatives to improve their network visibility. As IT plays an increasingly important role, these integrated monitoring and analytics tools are allowing IT to contribute valuable business intelligence.
- Despite a good fiscal quarter, Cisco shocked market watchers in August when it said it would eliminate 4,000 jobs, or 5%, of its workforce. The move, attributed in part to a "slow economic recovery," was aimed at redistributing resources from certain operations to research and development initiatives. However, some analysts said the layoffs were more of a reflection of an overall change in the technology industry. Most of the cuts will affect the mid-management level as Cisco reallocates resources to software development, where it sees more growth opportunities.
- The March 2013 e-zine article illuminated a growing problem: The hybrid cloud was not offering what users expected in terms of being able to access all applications on a single platform. Some were inside the cloud and some were on the outside. The network was seen as the main obstacle in between the hybrid cloud and being able to manage virtual machines across a single data center. The solution, analysts and users said, was expected to come from a combination of software-defined networking, network virtualization, and expanded orchestration tools.
- Enterprise solutions architect Glen Kemp cleared up some of the confusion surrounding Security Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate management. In an April tip, Kemp explained the basics and discussed some of the pitfalls and problems systems administrators run into when overseeing the security mechanism. Among his recommendations: Don't overlook the OpenSSL cryptographic toolkit. The utility, Kemp said, is "the engineer's Swiss Army knife for certificate management."