In terms of significant announcements, 2008 did not disappoint in Ethernet switching: Juniper entered the market, Cisco unveiled its next-generation platform, and other major vendors consolidated. It will be hard for 2009 to match. Here's a countdown of the top 10 stories for the year soon to pass.
10. Advanced switching grabs Interop New York spotlight. Three major vendors -- Foundry Networks, Enterasys Networks and Force 10 Networks -- used the bright lights of Interop New York in September to unveil switching upgrades for next-generation environments, such as those supporting video, unified communications, IPv6 and embedded security. Some of the offerings underscore the trend towards tackling these requirements on behalf of smaller businesses and workgroups rather than core data centers, which vendors view as a high-growth subset of the overall enterprise switching market.
9. Woven weaves 10G at US$500 per port. While not exactly a powerhouse data center switch vendor, Woven is influential, and its plan to offer 10G at US$500 per port announced in October will surely have a ripple effect throughout data center switch pricing. The lower price will make upgrading to 10G more affordable and allow users to quickly increase the capacity of their data center networks. Woven's move follows the US$400/10G port introduction of Andy Bechtolsheim-funded start-up Arista Network's top-of-rack switch.
8. HP bolsters wireless LAN stature with Colubris buy. As HP ProCurve continues to solidify its position as the No. 2 player to Cisco in enterprise Ethernet switching, the company broadened its arsenal by announcing in August plans to acquire WLAN vendor Colubris Networks. It's a strategic move by HP ProCurve to increase its visibility in the WLAN market and extend its penetration into key vertical markets. Colubris gives HP ProCurve IEEE 802.11n products and a stronger, broader presence in such markets as education, hospitality, transportation, healthcare, manufacturing and service providers.
7. Ex-Cisco exec drawn to start-up Arista's software. Former Cisco data center chief Jayshree Ullal said in October that she had landed at switching start-up Arista Networks as its new CEO. Arista, started by Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim, made waves by packing 48 10-Gigabit Ethernet ports into 1RU for the data center. That Arista attracted an executive of Ullal's stature indicates that the company may have some intriguing technology and market prospects. Indeed, instead of the inexpensive port density and form factor of the hardware, it's Arista's modular software architecture that appealed to Ullal.
6. Siemens Enterprise, Enterasys in US$550 million joint venture. In another example of industry consolidation, Enterasys owner Gores Group in July said it was acquiring a 51 percent stake in Siemens Enterprise Communications, and announced intentions of combining it with Enterasys. The union results in a US$5 billion global player in secure switching, unified communications and W LANs. It is also intended to create a much stronger player to go up against Cisco in enterprise accounts. Enterasys CEO Mike Fabiaschi, who died unexpectedly shortly after the joint venture was announced, had spoken openly of Enterasys' intentions to acquire its way into the $1 billion-plus switching club.