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2010 predictions from some of the top networking industry analysts

SearchNetworking.com asks some of the top analysts in the industry to predict what 2010 will bring for network infrastructure, network security, wireless LAN, data center networks and network management.

We're closing the book on 2009, which has been an interesting year for the networking industry. Now the editors of SearchNetworking.com are looking ahead to 2010. We surveyed some of the top analysts in the industry and asked them to share with us their predictions for 2010.

Indeed, the economy continues to sputter along at a disappointing pace, but the thought leaders in the networking world aren't sitting still. There will be plenty of change in 2010. Here's what some of the leading analyst at some of the brightest research firms in the industry had to say.

Network infrastructure predictions: More mergers, 40 Gigabit Ethernet data center switches, a Layer 2 comeback

Zeus Kerravala, vice president for enterprise infrastructure, Yankee Group

We asked Zeus Kerravala, senior vice president at Yankee Group, to offer some predictions about what he sees on the horizon for the network infrastructure world in 2010.

Mergers will continue: Consolidation in the networking market will continue, Kerravala said. Extreme Networks will be the next network vendor to be bought. Also, Avaya will sell off its Nortel assets. "What's happened in this industry is 'Cisco and the Seven Dwarves' has changed quite a bit," he said. "Instead of having smaller companies like Extreme, 3Com, etc. be Cisco's major competitors, it's going to be HP and Juniper."

Read more 2010 predictions from networking analysts

Wireless LANs: Cheaper access points, more reliable and robust networks

Data center networks: Two-tier networks arrive, mergers drive price reductions

Network management: Video, automation and mobility

Network security: All-in-one devices to combine unified threat management and next-generation firewalls

40 Gigabit Ethernet in the data center: Virtualization will drive innovation in the data center, and vendors will offer enterprise customers 40 Gigabit Ethernet. "[Virtualization] really hasn't impacted the network yet, but it's starting to," Kerravala said. "It'll push along 10 [Gigabit Ethernet adoption] and I think we'll see 40 [Gigabit Ethernet] products next year."

Diving back into Layer 2: Most enterprises are using native Ethernet, but Kerravala said virtualization will spur a return to TCP/IP. "From a virtualization standpoint, it's faster to do things at Layer 2," he said. "I think you'll see vendors spend a lot of time marketing TCP/IP as the primary protocol…. In some ways, it's 'Back to the Future.'"

WAN optimization: Layers 4 through 7 will also gain continued attention for wide-area network optimization products, Kerravala said, with F5 Networks and Riverbed as the market leaders. "The more reliant companies become on their network," he said, "the more important it is the networks be able to handle the different types of applications."

Next: Wireless LAN predictions for 2010 include cheaper 802.11n access points and more reliable wireless networks.

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