What if Ethernet failed?

By , Network World |  Networking, Ethernet

Can you imagine a world where carriers offered Metro FDDI services? Or the IEEE defined a standard for Token Bus in the First Mile?

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Or ruggedized gear for harsh environments was based on Industrial ATM? Or data center convergence included a proposal for Fibre Channel-over-Token Ring?

What would the networking world look like if Ethernet hadn't won?

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"Standards, consistency, simplicity, scale and innovation would have suffered," says IDC analyst Rohit Mehra. "If there was no consistency, networking would be even more complex than it is today."

Others agree.

"It would be more complicated, less reliable and slower," says Zeus Kerravala of ZK Research. "There'd be more outages, and perhaps our expectations on service levels would be lower."

"We would have gone through a much longer period of proprietary networks," says Jon Oltsik, principal analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. "The goodness of IP, including the Internet, wouldn't have happened as quickly."

Each segment of the network - local area, metro area and wide area - may have had a different technology. Token Ring would have dominated the LAN, though Token Bus in some instances - manufacturing floors, for example - would have had spot deployments.

FDDI may have overtaken the metro area. And ATM and frame relay would have proliferated throughout the WAN, just as they did up until Ethernet-based services began displacing them.

And with all of these different technologies populating different parts of the network, consistency of end-to-end service would likely take a hit. Gateways and bridges between different technologies would increase latency, and along with it, capital and operational expense.

And advances like distributed computing and client/server computing - or distributed client/server computing - would have never have come about or been crippled if they did.


Originally published on Network World |  Click here to read the original story.
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