The networking market will become more like the commodity PC market in the next few years as it is increasingly driven by technology and better price/ performance, according to Dave House, chairman and chief executive at Bay Networks. House showed off the chip technology that he believes will enable Bay to compete in that performance-driven world.
House, speaking in a keynote address at the Networld+Interop show in Las Vegas this week, said the PC industry took off when Microsoft Dos and Windows became standards. Their applications drove demand and x86 chips improved price/performance. In networking, the standard protocol is TCP/IP, the Web is driving demand and routing switches offer better price/performance.
Routing switches are where Bay will fit into the equation. House believes technology can advance to deliver one trillion bits per second within a century. In the nearer term, Bay's contribution to the speed race will be a route switch processor (RSP) that routes 1.5 million packets a second. This will be the core of a range of switches to ship early next year, which will run on multiple RSPs to achieve rates of tens of millions of packets per second.
Bay will not try to force customers into proprietary solutions - the mistake IBM made in PCs, House claimed. "Your supplier would like to say you only have one place to go. But I found at Intel that customers resist that control and vote with their dollars." He called on the industry to set standards rapidly for Layer 3 switching and urged users not to buy locked-in solutions in this market. Also in this area, Bay will introduce Gigabit Ethernet uplinks to its Switch Node Layer 3 device next year.
Layer 3 switching focused on the RSP-based products and IP protocols is one of three prongs of Bay's enterprise strategy. The others are network management and value added software called IP Services, which will include applications, integration products, security and virtual private network capabilities. For Bay's other main market, carriers, high end backbone routers and access devices remain the key.
During his speech, House - who was responsible for marketing and the ?Intel Inside? branding campaign during his 22 years with the chip giant - entertained delegates, despite crashing his laptop three times.
He said networking has improved lives through email, Internet information and interactive games, but it has not perfected it because the technology does not yet allow for competent distance learning, videoconferencing and virtual reality. "We are not there yet," he said. "MIT [the Massachusetts Institute of Technology] told us we need one trillion bits per second to replicate the five human senses."
House said if Wan bandwidth technology continues its progress, that speed is possible within 100 years.
Analysts believe Bay is correct to focus on speeding up IP, but believe it must move quickly to avoid its weakened market position worsening under attacks from Cisco and others. Brendan Hannigan of Forrester Research thinks Bay must buy a Gigabit switch specialist to fill out its strategy of offering maximum speed across enterprise networks. The 'Wall Street Journal' duly speculated that Bay is interested in bidding for a start-up in this market, Rapid City Communications.
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