It's a mystery, at times, as to why some companies bother to do trade shows. These days there is the usual whining about how the show isn't as big as last year, juxtaposed with the contradictory enthusiasm for the fact that anyone bothered to show up.
However, even if the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) isn't quite as packed as it was for
N+I is unique in so far as there is really very little in the way of consumer computing products on display here, unlike Comdex, which can be a veritable bazaar of goodies. On the other hand, the networking world is slowly coming to the realization that it's networking for all these days, from small to big business, and even the multi-PC home. So, on the one hand, you get products and companies that only multi-million dollar IT shops are going to love, and on the other hand, you have this deluge of products that are targeted at smaller environments and budgets, like wireless LANs, cable modems, routers and gateways. There's no middle ground.
The biggest challenge facing the networking world is education: educating the new user as well as educating the industry about the changing face of the average user. We really have more questions about wireless networking than we have answers. We have a lot more questions about security than answers. We have a lot more questions about storage, servers, switches and network management than we have answers.
It wouldn't be so bad if networking was still an esoteric niche, but it isn't anymore. It's becoming a fundamental part of our everday computing experience. At the risk of reducing the trends to absurdly simple levels, here are the things that seem to be buzzing in the networking world.