The future of the LAN

ComputerWorld ran an article today calling into question the future of the LAN (local area network). The article features Bob Metcalfe (Wikipedia) – one of the inventors of Ethernet.

“We are just at the point where you can talk about terabit connections without sounding like a wack job,” Germanow noted. As for market share, Ethernet now has nearly 100% of the LAN market, he said, adding that his firm stopped tracking competitive technologies years ago. “I think Ethernet will continue to play the primary role in LAN connectivity at least through my lifetime,” he added.

What is interesting about the article is that only the last 3 paragraphs deal with the LAN becoming obsolete.

Actually, when the Grim Reaper does come, he may be on a mission to collect the LAN itself, and that may happen not so long from now, said Robert Whiteley, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. The LAN will become obsolete, he predicted, through a process he called de-perimeterization.

“We are already seeing 20 or 30 of the largest global firms doing it in isolation, and in five or 10 years it may reach critical mass,” he said. Firms are finding that they can skip cabling and adopt wireless networks. The next step is to give each machine a direct Internet connection, with appropriate security technology, skipping the LAN, he predicted.

It seems to me this opens more questions than it answers – an in no way explains how these new technologies(?) will replace and enhance the functions we currently rely on our LANs for.

It is a very interesting read…