At Burton Group’s Catalyst Conference, I chatted briefly with speaker Matt Lavallee about how the conference was going, and he asked me this question: “Have there been any surprises for you?”
In short, my answer was “yes.” But in long, if the title of this blog post is any indication, I was quite taken aback by what I heard from Burton Group senior analyst David Passmore in his first session on the “wireless everything” era.
When I spoke to Passmore last week in an interview on computer networking trends for 2009, I hadn’t quite realized that his future of networks meant the extinction of them.
In the first point of our interview Passmore stated, “Wireless is one [networking trend of ‘09] because there’s an increased use of mobile phones for both data as well as for voice. We’re also seeing enterprises using wireless LANs (WLANs) often as a substitute for wired Ethernet.” From these trends, he suggested that we would some day no longer need networks.
Consider this tongue-in-cheek dialogue between Passmore’s explanation of this at Catalyst and the audience’s reaction:
Passmore: For longer-term networking trends, we may actually see the disappearance of enterprise networks.
Audience: Blank, saucer-eyed staring
Passmore: You’re probably thinking, “How can that be?”
Audience: Those not nodding vehemently to his question are doing so internally, thinking “Yes, how can that be?”
Passmore: Well, we’re already seeing a shift from wired Ethernet access for the use of wireless LANs.
Audience: OK, but that’s still a network — hence the “n” in wireless “LAN”…
All kidding aside — what he meant was that Ethernet is very surely being replaced with wireless, which will then be replaced by 4G mobile cellular data. Does this seem probable? I think he has a valid point, but how soon will a transition like this occur? Will the network engineer have to move into wireless telecommunications in his lifetime? Who’s to say?