2013 was another year of evolution in the ever-changing world of networking. Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) dominated headlines throughout the year and likely will again in 2014. SDN and BYOD aren't however, the only key trends in 2013 that will be prominent in 2014 as 802.11ac Wi-Fi, IPv6 and security will also be top of mind across the networking landscape.
SDN was a super hot topic in 2013 driven by a myriad of vendor announcements and pronouncements about the agile networking approach. According to exclusive research conducted by QuinStreet Enterprise (publisher of this site), SDN deployments are still in the early stages with only 14 percent of respondents to a data center survey, reporting that they had already deployed SDN.
In 2014, expect more vendor noise around SDN products and services as well as surveys on deployment patterns. A key evolution for SDN in 2014 will be the first official release from the open source OpenDaylight effort.
OpenDaylight got started in April of 2013 as a multi-stakeholder effort to product and open-source SDN platform. With the first release in early 2014, time will tell whether OpenDaylight can pick up traction as an organization and as a technology that the big networking vendors can build upon.
While Cisco is a major contributor to OpenDaylight, OpenDaylight arguably wasn't the company's biggest SDN news in 2013.
Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) was one of the most anticipated reveals of 2013. For months, small leaks of information about the super secret Insieme effort trickled out and then finally in November Cisco showed its hand.
The basic idea behind Insieme and now ACI is a super-set of SDN type functionality. Instead of just having network agility for its own sake, the ACI model recognizes that the primary use-case for networks is to carry application traffic.
In 2013, Cisco announced the ACI vision and the first product, the Nexus 9000 switching family. In 2014, the real 'meat' of the ACI effort will be revealed with the launch of the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC), likely in the first half of 2014.
ACI wasn't the only big news from Cisco in 2013. Cisco also completed its $2.7 Billion acquisition of security pioneer Sourcefire.
At the time the deal closed in October of 2013, Cisco had two different sets of Firewall technologies in its portfolio. During 2014, expect to see Cisco continue to drive both the Cisco ASA and Sourcefire FirePOWER platforms forward, with the potential to also see a synergistic offering of some sort.
During 2013, the next major evolution of wireless networking was finally certified. The 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard was officially certified in June.
802.11ac is the successor to 802.11n which is now widely deployed in enterprise wireless access points and client devices. The promise of 802.11ac is bandwidth of 1 Gbps and perhaps even higher as the next wave of devices and enhancements are being developed.
In 2013, the first wave of enterprise access points began to debut with support for 802.11ac, but it will be in 2014 and into 2015 as technology refresh cycles kick in on the client side of devices, as well as enterprise access points, when adoption is likely to growth rapidly.
IPv6 and the Internet of Things
The transition to IPv6 has been years in the making and 2013 was another incremental step in its adoption. The official World IPv6 launch day occurred in June of 2012 and there was no formal IPv6 day event in 2013.
In June of 2013 the Internet Society told Enterprise Networking Planet that only 12 percent of the top 1000 websites were reachable via IPv6, leaving plenty of room for growth in 2014 and beyond.
A key driver for the growth of IPv6 in 2014 will be the Internet of Things, as hundreds of millions of new devices get onto the network, the only practical way to provide connectivity will be with the 128-bit address space provided by IPv6.
"We are going to be able to add several billion more devices onto the Internet, realizing that IPv6 has more address space then there are atoms composing the entire Earth,"David Ward, CTO of Engineering and Chief Architect at Cisco said in December. "So let's hope we don't run out anytime soon, 'cause this address transition from IPv4 to IPv6 has been a long time coming."
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist