Making Business Realities Work For You
Part V: Playing By The New Rules Of Networking
BY TONY RYBCZYNSKI
Routers have served well as the practical workhorses of enterprise
networking for decades. But as enterprises transform the ways they use
networks, networks have to transform too. Instead of more workhorses, maybe
you really need armored cars, a bullet train, and better navigation systems.
The network equivalents of those special-purpose vehicles are here.
Business Reality: If you keep doing the same thing,
youï¿½ll keep getting the same results.
Itï¿½s an old adage, but still true. If the present enterprise network
architecture is expensive to manage, troublesome to maintain, short on
bandwidth, and inflexible to growth and change... deploying more of the same
equipment isnï¿½t going to solve the problem. If the network grows in scale
but not in ï¿½intelligenceï¿½ and efficiency, IT headaches only turn into
For decades, Layer 1-3 routers have served as the workhorses of the
multi-protocol IP and Ethernet world. They interfaced to multiple LAN and
WAN environments, supported a range of speeds from sub-56Kbps to Gbps, and
provided best-effort routing in an open Internet environment.
ï¿½Best-effortï¿½ isnï¿½t the best anymore. New ways of using the Internet and
intranets call for new ways to manage exponentially growing traffic.
Technology Response -- Transform the network to be
smarter, faster, and more secure.
Technology advances of recent years are dramatically simplifying the
network and improving price/performance in ways that traditional,
router-based architectures canï¿½t match. These innovations enable IT
organizations to completely rethink how they distribute applications and
storage, how they connect with all their stakeholders, and how they can
exploit the network for competitive advantage. These ï¿½discontinuitiesï¿½ --
fundamental changes in how enterprise networking is done -- are offering
tangible benefits over the tried-and-true.
Transform the network with IP and content-aware intelligence.
Internet Protocol (IP) and a family of related protocols (RTP, TCP, FTP,
HTTP, SSL, IPSec, H.323, etc.) have emerged as the de facto standard for
enterprise networking and applications. IP has become the glue that
converges applications and infrastructures across the enterprise -- the
favored protocol suite for clients, networking, content distribution,
application switching, security, and applications.
In this IP-centric, converged network environment, purpose-built networking
platforms that operate at Layer 3-7 are starting to replace legacy Layer 1-3
routers as the workhorse of enterprise networks. Layer 3-7 switches can go
far beyond connectivity and packet-routing services offered by enterprise
Using sophisticated policies that are unknown to traditional LAN switches
and routers, Layer 3ï¿½7 switches provide intelligent traffic management
capabilities, such as local and global server load balancing, content-aware
application redirection, ï¿½cookie-awareï¿½ differentiated services, virtual
hosting, persistent connections for business transactions, content-aware
security, and intelligent bandwidth management.
Legacy routers will continue to provide value at the edge of this
transformed networking environment, while new platforms will reduce global
network load and costs, improve server and network response time, and enable
differentiated services that cannot be achieved any other way.
Transform the network with intrinsic security.
Savvy CIOs were quick to see the potential in IP VPNs to connect to
remote users, connect sites together, and connect partners, suppliers, and
customers in an integrated B2B environment.
The Internet is an important channel to customers and a cost-effective way
to bring employees, partners, and remote sites into the enterprise network,
for constant communications or just-in-time partnering. It supports data,
voice, and video streaming. Itï¿½s a cost-effective way to provide full mesh
connections among sites, with T1 access speeds via DSL, for popular new uses
such as peer networking and IP telephony.
But itï¿½s inherently insecure. To date, security requirements have been met
by bolting security capabilities onto routers or adding specialized security
devices to the network. Upgrading routers to support robust IP-VPNs over the
open Internet has been either expensive or impossible. Dual-box solutions
based on IP-VPN switches and routers add operational complexity and cost,
and require multiple encapsulations to support dynamic routing over
encrypted tunnels. Firewalls provide perimeter defenses, but they donï¿½t stop
insider abuse, and they leave loopholes for wireless and dial-up access.
In the new enterprise networking model, security is built into the network,
at data centers and at the edge, operates across Layers 1 to 7, and is
managed under enterprise-wide policies. IP VPNs, firewalls, Network Address
Translation (NAT), and dynamic routing over encrypted tunnels are all
tightly integrated in the networking platform. This strategy increases
reliability by using multiple paths, simple configuration (compared to
prevailing multi-encapsulation techniques), secure mesh connectivity, and
acceleration techniques that enable stringent security without performance
Transform the network with optical networking.
Fast, inexpensive, and simple to use, ï¿½plug-and-playï¿½ Ethernet technology
has become the standard in more than 90 percent of corporate LANs.
Originally developed for coaxial cable and twisted copper pair, Ethernet
jumped onto fiber. It was a natural evolution, because fiber networks were
being deployed everywhere, and optical technologies had advanced eight times
faster than Mooreï¿½s Law in price/performance.
Optical networking combines the ubiquity, flexibility, and simplicity of
Ethernet with the reliability, wavelength agility, and speed of optics. With
optical networking, this proven LAN technology has emerged as the reliable,
cost-effective, and speedy choice for the metropolitan- and wide-area
network as well. With orders of magnitude increases in bandwidth --
delivered over a simpler and more reliable network -- optical networking can
profoundly change networking parameters and open up new application
possibilities, new computing models, and new ways of doing business.
Optical networking enables new storage networking options. Traditionally,
distributed processing and storage was expensive due to bandwidth
consumption and gateway processing. Now itï¿½s feasible to have real-time disk
mirroring, remote backup and data replication, and shared databases across
the network, using optical network wavelengths. Protocol-independent optical
wavelengths deliver the ultra-high reliability and scalability required of
storage and mainframe extension applications, and support the end-to-end
delay, reliability, and capacity requirements of the most stringent storage
Optical networking redefines the design of router networks. Within a campus,
centralized IP and Ethernet-optimized routing switches and switched Ethernet
wiring closets have largely displaced a mix of legacy technologies. Optical
networking enables a flattening of the network by deploying routing switches
at larger site and having ï¿½routerlessï¿½ branch offices as a logical extension
of the campus network. An enterprise network, even one spanning a continent,
becomes more like an extended campus network than the Internet.
The ï¿½Netï¿½ Effect of Transformation
IP, Ethernet, and optics -- and the security, performance, and
intelligence they enable -- are defining a new order in enterprise
networking. Over the next five years:
ï¿½ Optical networking will largely replace private lines, frame relay, and
ATM in metropolitan area networks (MANs) and inter-city connections. Say
goodbye to the speed bumps, protocol conversions, traffic management, and
QoS gymnastics required today, when going from Ethernet-dominated LANs and
Fibre Channel dominated storage networks to the frame/cell/T1/T3 world of
MANs/WANs. In fact, Infonetics predicts a five-fold increase by 2004 in
metro optical networking investments by businesses, service providers,
utilities, and local governments.
ï¿½ The Internet will gain an expanded role for branch and remote access
networking. IP VPNs will largely replace private, dedicated circuits for
connecting non-metro locations and remote users, and partners across the
extended supply chain.
ï¿½ Layer 4-7 devices -- which can make routing decisions based on information
unknown to Layer 2-3 switches and routers -- will deliver critical
capabilities required for application-aware IP networks: more intelligent
traffic management capabilities, local and global server load balancing,
content-aware routing and access control, and content-based bandwidth
ï¿½ Security will become inherent in applications and services.
High-performance, multi-layer security will protect data integrity and
privacy across all environments, including mobility, without compromising
performance. Routing will be transformed by building IP-VPN and firewall
security into routing devices, and through increased centralization of Layer
3 switching enabled through optical networking.
Whatever transformation strategy and timetable an enterprise chooses,
ultimately, the rewards will be seen in evolution to a more profitable and
efficient network-based business model that permeates all aspects of the
business and its relations with all stakeholders.
Tony Rybczynski is director of strategic enterprise technologies for
Nortel Networks with 30 years experience in networking. For more
information, visit the companyï¿½s Web site at
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