Users should beware of automatically upgrading to 100/1000Mbps Ethernet switches, just because vendors say it will future-proof their networks.
Mark Fabbi, Gartner Group networking analyst, said vendors would soon begin producing autosensing 100/1000Mbps workgroup switches following the recent ratification of the Gigabit Ethernet over copper specification.
"Vendors will make the argument that the future is unknown and that it's better to prepare with 100/1000 switches, just as you did in the past with 10/100. For roughly 85 per cent of user organisations, this future proofing will just add expense while delivering little or no value," he said.
Jay Pultz, Gartner Group research director, said he believed fully featured 10/100Mbps switches would fulfil the needs of all companies for at least the next five years, except those that equated time to money or time to lives.
"Too many people will blindly follow the advice of vendors even though Gigabit Ethernet to the desktop is so much more than you need," he said.
Pultz also said that IP had won the battle of the local area network and that ATM to the desktop only made sense in large government organisations, the military and very specialised applications.
Fabbi added that IPv4 had proved adept at adding functionality and would have evolved by 2004 to a point where it will have many of the features that ATM has now. This would include framelets to reliably carry a wider range of traffic types, flow recognition and traffic classification, and policy based networking.
This would make IP a strong enough technology to run end to end services outside the Lan to the Wan and onto carrier networks. Organisations should therefore prepare by either buying IP compatible ATM equipment now or place the burden on their carrier to do it.
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