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June 2016 Vol 7 / No. 5

Role of hardware in networking remains critical

Mark Twain famously claimed to have told a reporter -- in refuting erroneous rumors of his own passing -- "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." It seems that reports of hardware's demise may be similarly overblown. Software has unquestionably brought significant changes to the industry and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, but the days of hardware in networking are hardly numbered. Dependable physical gear remains critical in virtually all of today's enterprise networks -- even the virtualized ones. In existing software-defined environments, physical gear must enable the greater scalability and reduced complexity that virtualization promises. In other words, rather than disappearing, hardware in networking has adapted to meet evolving needs. After all, as we discuss in this edition of Network Evolution, virtual overlays need underlying physical networks ("In virtualized environments, importance of hardware remains"). SDN fabrics such as Cisco ACI rely on physical infrastructure -- often in the...

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