Hewlett Packard (HP) has warned that corporate networks will have to be upgraded to cope with the additional demands soon to hit them.
Local area networks (Lans) will become more complex, handling voice traffic, video conferencing and storage over Ethernet.
And corporate Lans will have ISP-like functions at the edge of the network, such as agent authentication, the company predicts.
John McHugh, vice president and general manager of HP's networks division, said that mobility, wireless, Ethernet and Internet Protocol version 6 would lead to anytime, anyplace internet access. And corporate Lans will become protected areas of public networks.
But he warned that existing networking technology is unlikely to be able to cope with all the demands placed upon it.
"Do all customers get it? No, some don't see the train wreck that is heading the way of their network," said McHugh.
To respond to the challenges, HP is pushing its Edge network architecture, launched last month, based on the concept of distributing network intelligence and authentication through to the edge of the network rather than keeping it at the core.
McHugh explained that Edge is the result of two years of thinking at HP about meeting the networking challenges of the future.
For security, HP is using the 802.1x standard, which provides for dynamic changes in WEP keys and can be used for either wired or wireless equipment.
Rogue access points into the network would not be a threat, as the Edge architecture would define any undefined point as a public access point, for which the administrator would already have set rules, McHugh said.
Meanwhile, HP is looking to make greater inroads into the UK enterprise market by persuading existing partners to drop Cisco and 3Com kit for its Procurve range.
The company is confident that Procurve will overtake 3Com's offering to take second place in the Lan switch market within 12 months.
"10/100 Ethernet represents more than 50 per cent of the market in revenues at the moment, but Gigabit will be the next war," said Wenceslao Lada, general manager at HP Europe Middle East and Africa.
Last month, HP distributed free firmware to customers in Europe which upgraded 1.5m layer 2 systems to layer 3. The vendor also shipped switches supporting 300,000 ports with layer 3 capabilities.
It also wants to recruit around a dozen large Vars from Compaq's channel. It will target resellers that already sell Proliant servers and can be brought into the HP fold without requiring too much training.
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