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Networking decides between modern Ethernet standards

This week, bloggers discuss the debate between modern Ethernet standards, compare network management to landlords and examine 2017 cybersecurity threats.

Keith Townsend, blogging for CTO Advisor, recalled the time when Ethernet defeated token ring in the "LAN wars" of the 1990s by accelerating its throughput from 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps, while token ring failed to exceed 16 Mbps. In modern Ethernet, the same debate over raw speed is back, as customers decide between 25 Gbps and 40 Gbps. Both standards were ratified in 2010, but many large companies like Google and Microsoft have formed a consortium to promote 25 Gbps as the modern Ethernet standard.

According to Townsend, in purpose-built data centers, 25 Gbps makes more sense. It is easy to aggregate 25 Gbps links to reach 100 Gbps, and the switches for both 25 Gbps and 100 Gbps share components. Nevertheless, networking vendors like Cisco have focused on 40 Gbps so far and only recently began selling 25 Gbps for top-of-rack switches. In Townsend's view, 25 Gbps and, above all, decoupled white box systems are the wisest options to satisfy the modern Ethernet needs of most companies.

Read more of Townsend's ideas about modern Ethernet.

How network management is a bit like being a landlord

Phillip Gervasi, writing in Packet Pushers, compared his experiences as a landlord to his career in networking. Citing a personal anecdote about a water heater that he failed to replace ahead of time, which led to an embarrassing hot water interruption for his tenants, Gervasi said, "Don't put off minor maintenance."

"Our networks are like old houses that need regular attention ... Our networks need our regular attention, but I'm not talking about midnight rip-and-replace projects. I'm talking about those small tasks that are quick, easy, sometimes tedious, but also necessary for stability," Gervasi said.

Gervasi added it is often easy to get caught up in "cool" projects like building new, expansive WAN offerings and put off cabling work, code updates for switches or maintaining access points.

But that would be a mistake, he said. While he'd rather perform tasks that are more interesting than basic, Gervasi advised it's the basics that will ensure a critical component doesn't fail at midnight when you'd rather be home with your family.

Dig deeper into Gervasi's ideas on network maintenance.

Cybersecurity trends in 2017

Doug Cahill, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group Inc., in Milford, Mass., looked ahead to 2017 cybersecurity trends after recapping some of the events in 2016. The past year has witnessed the Democratic National Committee hack, WikiLeaks releases, the rise of ransomware and the internet-of-things botnet distributed denial-of-service attack that targeted Dyn's domain name system service.

Cahill and his fellow analyst, Jon Oltsik, predicted more targeting of financial services and continued growth of ransomware. They added that hacktivism, targeting of public figures and the hijacking of IoT devices will lead to major attacks in the coming year.

Explore more of Cahill's thoughts on 2017 cybersecurity.

Next Steps

Understanding the evolution of Ethernet

The history of Ethernet

Looking into 25 Gbps Ethernet

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