Saturday, January 20, 2007

TCP/IP as both LAN and WAN transport.

Today, most enterprise networks are a mixture of many protocols: IPX, IP, SNA, and AppleTalk are perhaps the four most popular ones. Many IS shops have begun careful evaluation to replace these four with one protocol, and typically that protocol is IP. Why? IP can handle both LAN and WAN traffic well, it is supported by the majority of computing platforms from Macintoshes to Windows NT to the largest mainframes, it has a robust set of management tools and an active development community to enhance them, and it is the lingua franca of the Internet.

In the past, IP has been hampered by huge memory requirements needed to support the protocol, especially on DOS machines. With the increase of Windows-based operating systems, and with new versions this year of Windows95 and NT that offer tighter integration and better support of IP protocols, this is becoming less of an issue.

Indeed, there are almost too many IP products available these days: section E lists the various categories of products to watch. Attachmate's Irma TCP Suite has a complete set of TCP/IP applications. It includes the Netscape web browser, a set of robust host emulators that work with TCP/IP, an IP protocol stack, and other Internet-related utilities that allow file transfers and access to gopher and other tools. Other vendors offer just stacks, or a different mix of utilities, or integrated applications that handle multiple functions (such as email and Web browsing, for example).