Those gathered at the recent Networld/Interop 2000 expo in Las Vegas have been looking at ways to meet the bandwidth demand brought on by the surge in e-commerce, as vendors promise smarter and faster switching and more reliable routing.
Steve Brown, director of network services at US-based Providian Financial, said he's interested in intelligent call routing using voice-over IP to ensure that customers are routed to the right person in Providian's call centres. Voice-over IP allows voice traffic to be sent over IP networks designed to carry data.
"We've been talking to Cisco about their IP phone products," Brown said. "It looks like convergence [of voice and data] is getting off newspaper pages and into the enterprise."
But convergence, and even more network traffic, brings new challenges in network load management and content prioritisation. Quality-of- service capability is one possible answer because it allows network managers to steer the most important data along the least crowded data paths.
Stan Schatt from research company Giga Information Group said a new breed of quality-of-service programmable network appliances (single-purpose computers) are coming to the rescue. Although Cisco and others will likely promote similar technologies, Schatt noted that the newest such devices will come from Sitera and LightSpeed Semi- conductor.
Schatt said Gigabit Ethernet over metropolitan area networks (MANs) would also be a big topic. Extreme Networks is showing its new Alpine line of carrier-class switches that use optical Gigabit Ethernet to connect buildings in campus or urban settings. Using Ethernet, the transport standard for most corporate LANs, the switches will make connections to the MAN seamless.