Looking even a year ahead into the network future can be a daunting task. For example, three years ago at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Bill Gates, then Microsoft ‘s chairman, boldly predicted the problem of spam on the Internet would be solved by 2006.
Recent studies, however, indicate worldwide spam traffic doubled in 2006 and now accounts for nine of 10 e-mail messages sent on the Internet.
Macro business issues will continue to dominate telecommunications and network infrastructure in 2007, and the big will get bigger through an aggressive M&A strategies. In 2007, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission modifications to Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) regulations will occur, to the cheers of corporate America and the jeers of the accounting profession.
The financial community is abuzz with renewed IPO interest in IPOs because the SEC has relaxed its reporting rules for SOX and 10-K filings. The aggressive return of network and computer industry IPOs may finally occur this year.
Meanwhile, Cisco has made it official: Virtualization has brought to reality the phrase “the network is the computer,” and video convergence (for example, telepresence, conferencing, instant messaging, surveillance) will drive the network industry to ever-greater demand for low-latency bandwidth.
In the corporate world, we will see the continuing advance of service-oriented architecture (SOA) implementations. Cisco will finally get religion and amalgamate its Services Network Oriented Architecture (SONA) with SOA. With adoption becoming universal rather than sporadic, SOA is a corporate reality. No architecture is static, and in 2007 we will see the SOA with information services and master data management (MDM).
To accommodate this evolution it’s critical that a standardized enterprise services bus (ESB) be selected within the corporate SOA. The ESB becomes the corporate control plane for all IT applications and effectively the spinal cord for corporate business processes. MDM virtualization, synchronization of information demands and real-time requirements for grid-based corporate analytics will accelerate SOA’s next evolution, which requires increased network reliability, security and accessibility coupled with low latency and high bandwidth.
The data centre
Data centres are consolidating at a rapid pace, and the virtualization of computation, storage and network services is creating the virtual data centre. Virtualization will let corporations physically locate IT resources anywhere that makes economic and security sense; that location will be unknown and irrelevant to the user. Applications, operating systems and middleware become virtualized by default. Virtualization is important, but beware of vendor hype. Such terms as “security virtualization” are being used without any understanding of their meaning or impact on the corporation.
The Ethernet will become the network vehicle of choice in the virtual data centre. Today maximum connectivity in this environment is 10Gbps but in 2007 the IEEE will begin standardization efforts to make the Ethernet evolve to 100Gbps.
2006 saw the long-awaited arrival of Windows Vista from Microsoft. This year corporations get to kick the new operating system’s tires. Although Microsoft never has had any serious competition on the desktop, times have changed and Linux is poised to compete head-to-head with Vista. Because corporations now have the chance to evaluate a desktop upgrade, it’s time to compare open alternatives to a proprietary desktop operating environment. In 2007 there will be an opportunity to plan for the future of the corporate desktop into the next decade.
No article about the possible future of the network can be written without a prediction about the rate at which IPv6 will replace IPv4. This year will see the steepest rate of IPv6 adoption in its long history. The mandate for U.S. governmental networks to convert totally from IPv4 to IPv6 by 2008 will stimulate unprecedented upgrades to all industries’ installed base of routers and switches.
The 2007 inception of federally mandated use of RFID tags in the packaging of specific classes of drugs will accelerate the adoption of RFID technology and further reduce passive-chip cost. Industry after industry is beginning to evaluate the integration of RFID technology in their point-of-sale, CRM, inventory, supply chain, order entry and security applications.
The next generation of RFID tags, based on the IEEE P1902.1 standard and promising an exceedingly low read-error rate, will arrive in the marketplace in 2007. Today, RFID technology is two-dimensional (that is, identification within a plane). Expect 2007 to bring RFID technology that creates a three-dimensional (that is, identification and location within an area) model that will spawn innovative, mesh sensor-based network applications.
VoIP, entering its second decade, finally has come of age, which means TDM PBXs will die sooner rather than later. Corporate SOA integration of VoIP technology from Avaya, Bluenote Networks and Siemens will accelerate the demand for unified communications and IT applications access using Web services.
The coming year will see Avaya, Cisco, Siemens and others facing competition from such open source companies as Asterisk and Pingtel. To complicate thoroughly corporate decision-making about VoIP, Microsoft will enter the marketplace in 2007 with the VoIP software it recently licensed from Nortel integrated into its operating system.
The security question
Every survey indicates that security is the No. 1 concern of customers. That will not change in 2007. No platinum, silver or gold bullet exists, nor will any be developed in 2007 to cope with all of corporations’ layered security issues. New technology is being created constantly that appears to have the potential to address heuristically the areas of security, management and policy, but just staying ahead of the bad guys is a never-ending quest.
In 2007 rapid adoption of Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) practices will continue. ITIL lets companies develop a set of standardized guidelines that outline and coordinate processes for policy and management. Corporations may never fully automate by letting machines manage machines, but they will allow automated procedures that manage using coordinated exception processing.
SMBs get religion
The small and midsize business (SMB