With greater intelligence in the network, efficiency is likely to improve, though it still won't be enough for the bandwidth-intensive demands that networks will face in 2008.
The New Year could well be a breakout year for 10-gigabit Ethernet, or GbE, which so far has lagged in adoption. With costs falling for 10 GbE equipment, coupled with rising bandwidth demands, 10 GbE will likely be on the list of many IT admins' requisition forms.
While enterprises and datacenters start full adoption of 10 GbE, standards bodies such as the IEEE will be hard at work finalizing even faster speeds.
At some point in 2008, the 100 GbE standard is likely to be published as a draft, providing a ten-fold increase in Ethernet connection speeds. The 100 GbE standard will also include specifications for a 40 GbE standard, which will likely set the stage for a final showdown between SONET (define) and Ethernet.
The fastest connection possible in 2007 is the venerable 0C-768 at 40 gigabits per second. Once 40 GbE and 100 GbE come into play, it may well only be a matter of time before OC-768 loses share to the Ethernet upstarts.
IPv6: Everything gets an address
Orwell's Big Brother was all-knowing because he was everywhere. The networks of today aren't quite there yet, but with IPv6, they get much closer.
The current version of the Internet Protocol (version four, or IPv4) relies on address space that's near exhaustion. IPv6, with its billions upon billions of possible addresses, will be its successor -- and 2008 will be the year it finally takes off.
Why 2008? Because Uncle Sam says so.
In June, there is a Federal government mandate for the U.S. government's IT to switch to IPv6. It's a move that will spur tens of billions of dollars in capital and software upgrades. It will also force all those business that deal with the government to strongly consider IPv6 as well.
With IPv6's massive address space, anything can have an IP address. When anything -- be it a server, a phone or even just a refrigerator -- has an IP address, the network becomes pervasive.
So who's the power behind "Big Brother"? Who is the face behind the network? Well, for 2007, it was Cisco. In 2008, Cisco is still likely to be the chief mastermind behind the network's growing capabilities, though competitive challenges will continue to emerge.
In the core routing space, Juniper Networks will make still more inroads, chipping away at Cisco's dominance. Juniper's key weakness remains the fact that it doesn't have its own switching portfolio: As a result, it doesn't have the same end-to-end portfolio that Cisco has.
Expect either someone to buy Juniper this year, or Juniper to make its own purchase of a switch vendor to bolster its bid for network dominance.
HP, Nortel, Alcatel-Lucent and others will also ratchet up their competitive offerings -- as well as the marketing hyperbole -- as each takes on Cisco.
The bottom line, though, is that all the vendors are pushing the same goal: faster, more aware and smarter networks.
So remember, Big Brother isn't just a literary fabrication anymore. In 2008, Big Brother is the network.
This article was first published on InternetNews.com.