As we look at all the changes taking place on the Internet during the past several years, I think we can boil it down to two simple observations. First, the volume of traffic is increasing exponentially: e-mail, IM, and RSS all mean more connections. Second, each connection is moving a great deal more data, including multimedia, voice, and video.
What does this mean for the future? My guess is that over time IT departments will surrender control of their networks. The communications infrastructure and its management will be outsourced to providers that can offer the kind of always-on, always-secure QoS that the new volume and type of traffic requires.
Although offering QoS by peeking inside data packets as they speed through the network has been around for some time, this capability has been mostly for smaller networks. But now technologies such as RSS, SIP, and XML for e-commerce require networking and switching that scales to millions of people.
This means for an always-on network, such as a utility, there can be no single point of failure.
Second, we need a more holistic defence system, a so-called layered defence. Security must reside in every subsystem of the infrastructure -- in the campus or core network, edge switches, VPNs, and beyond the four walls of the company.
Finally, as the packets flow through the communications infrastructure there must be the ability to perform deep packet inspection, whether it is data, voice, IP, XML packets, or something not yet developed.
IT managers need an always-on network that is secure, with guaranteed performance and visibility into what applications are running and how systems are performing. It won't be long before the network infrastructure outgrows the ability of any one company to do it all.