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Data center networks in 2010: Two-tier networks arrive asked Gartner Research VP Joe Skorupa to predict what 2010 has in store for data center networks. He sees a price war driven by the HP-3Com merger, the rise of two-tiered architecture, and more 10 Gigabit Ethernet adoption.

Data center network predictions: HP-3Com affects prices, rise of the two-tiered data center network

Joe Skorupa, Research Vice President, Gartner Inc.

We asked Gartner Inc. Research vice president Joe Skorupa to offer us his predictions for what 2010 will bring for data center networks. He says Cisco's dominance will face a true threat, and the aggregation layer in the network will start to go away.

HP-3Com shakeup will drive down prices: The merger between HP and 3Com will push up HP ProCurve far enough to be nipping at Cisco's heels, with Juniper Networks picking up the rear, Skorupa said. "We'll now have a market where there are a number of large viable competitors," he said. "We're going to see a lot more competition, and for folks who do a good job doing competitive sourcing with pricing, they will save a lot of money."

Read more 2010 predictions from networking analysts

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

Network management: Video, automation and mobility

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

Broader adoption of 10G Ethernet: Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) may sound appealing by offering some network convergence, but it offers few savings versus "two garden variety 10 Gigabit [Ethernet] switches," according to a Gartner review, Skorupa said. "People are going to begin to start running the numbers on these new technologies … [and see] the cost savings being touted are not necessarily real," he said. "Pricing is going to have to get a lot more aggressive and lot more rational for [FCoE] to make sense."

SFP+ isn't going away: Small form-factor pluggable plus (SFP+) transceivers will continue to be used inside the rack, even as 10 Gigabit over twisted pair gains traction, Skorupa said. "There are still issues of cost and power [with SFP+]."

From three to two: "We will see networks evolve," Skorupa said. "Today, typically they're built in three tiers -- core, aggregate and edge -- and the new networks being built will collapse." In an effort to simplify network management, ease troubleshooting and lower costs, networks will fall back to two tiers, he said.

Next: Next year in network management brings focus on automation and mobility management.

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