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LAN Turns 30, May Not See 40?

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the getting-senile dept.

Networking 279

dratcw writes "The first commercial LAN was based on ARCnet technology and was installed some 30 years ago, according to a ComputerWorld article. Bob Metcalfe, one of the co-inventors of Ethernet, recalls the early battles between the different flavors of LAN and says some claims from the Token Ring backers such as IBM were lies. 'I know that sounds nasty, but for 10 years I had to put up with that crap from the IBM Token Ring people — you bet I'm bitter.' Besides dipping into networking nostalgia, the article also quotes an analyst who says the LAN may be nearing its demise and predicts that all machines will be individually connected to one huge WAN at gigabit speeds. Could the LAN actually be nearing the end of its lifecycle?"

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Well, could it? (3, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251380)

Could the LAN actually be nearing the end of its lifecycle?

Yes. All computers in the future will be stand alone and the Interweb will be shut down.

Somewhat interesting article, stupid summary question.

Re:Well, could it? (5, Interesting)

dosh8er (608167) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251690)

I used to have a thinnet rg-6 network back in school (10base2)... 2.5MIPS max. Plus you HAD to have a 75ohm terminator on any unused end. Never touched token ring... and from what I hear, a pain! All things considered, the CAT5 spec has been pushed quite a ways, even in the roll-out of CAT6e. These are the types of people that the industry needs. Individuals that can push what we have to the limit (hrmmm... let's twist the wires and then shield them for better resistance against cross-talk, thus improving bandwidth!) I applaud our existing Ethernet Overlords, and welcome the new age of Fiber!

Seriously, that must be the next thing, since copper, or any conductor, has its limitations.. (speed of the electrons, eddy currents, all that fun science...) With the advent of stopping light, quantum computing (vaporware?) fiber must be next... mmmm... everbody needs a little fiber in their diet!

Re:Well, could it? (2, Informative)

russotto (537200) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251900)

You should have been using RG-58 and 50 ohm terminators... things work much better with the right equipment.

WAN, SCHMAN (1, Offtopic)

Moryath (553296) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251750)

Anyone who thinks that wireless everything is the wave of the future has never considered the simple phrase "electromagnetic interference."

Imagine you and your closest 35 neighbors in an apartment complex, all wanted to use one of the 11 available 802.11 channels for your routers... at once...

Re:WAN, SCHMAN (4, Funny)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251860)

It doesn't work that way, it's more like a game of chicken-- one guy gets a router first, and then everyone else hops on. First hand experience here :)

Re:WAN, SCHMAN (4, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252030)

Imagine if all the people in your apartment had cellphones... Oh, of course they do. And they've all had wireless home phones for 15 years before that. Transponder density doesn't have to be a problem for wireless, it just means you need smarter transponders, and you get to use less power.

Whatever the limitations of 802.11 may or may not currently be, that doesn't mean much about the long-term prospects of wireless. 10 years ago I would have thought reclaiming the analog TV spectrum would be impossible, now it's happening before our eyes. Outside of a post-nuclear attack scenario, I can't think of any reason to say wireless is inherently unreliable.


Bender Unit 22 (216955) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252234)

I agree, maybe because I have to deal with that scenario. :) I had to place it in the center of my apartment, if I get furter than 6 meters away from it, the signal gets worthless. And I have to measure the channels from time to time, to find the optimal one. It is just not very stable in this enviroment.

And the only problem that the next generation(802.11n) seems to solve is bandwidth, while it enhances the other problem because it is a frequency hog.

It is obvious why WLANs are popular in homes since you don't have to install cables to get all your devices connected.

And "everyone on the same WAN"? No thanks.

Re:WAN, SCHMAN (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22252476)

Who the fuck said anything about wireless? []

Re:Well, could it? (5, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252184)

I agree, it's a stupid statement. Ethernet may be superceded by newer technologies, but there will always be uses for a local network.

Some networks, for example, should never be connected to the internet in any way.

Re:Well, could it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22252660)

This was yet another stupid Slashdot article. LAN isn't going away any time soon. It is retarded to even question that.

As long as the need for a secure network exists... (4, Insightful)

riseoftheindividual (1214958) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251402)

... the lan isn't going to disappear, at least not in 10 years. Can you imagine IBM, a defense corp, a huge pharma, etc... ditching their lans for wireless? yeah right, not any time soon.

Re:As long as the need for a secure network exists (1)

Rinisari (521266) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251446)

I think he is perhaps alluding to the inevitable fall of LAN to WLAN.

Re:As long as the need for a secure network exists (1)

toleraen (831634) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251668)


Reliability is easier to overcome since the Internet is getting more reliable, and if the hardware is cheap enough, I can just get two wireless interface cards, with different carriers, and the computer will load-balance across those links.
Nope, he's talking direct desktop to WAN connections. Maybe I'm not thinking far enough outside the box, but I can't think of any good reasons (that don't come with several bad reasons) to actually ditch a LAN for a WAN connection.

Re:As long as the need for a secure network exists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22251676)

"I think he is perhaps alluding to the inevitable fall of LAN to WLAN."

maybe I missed something, but aren't the last 3 letters of WLAN = LAN? Perhaps the argument should be whether or not it'll be wired or wireless...because I can assure you that my DVR will never have a public address...

Re:As long as the need for a secure network exists (1)

riseoftheindividual (1214958) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251732)

I was assuming that in my response. I don't see the LAN disappearing in the next 10 years for the simple fact that a WLAN is less secure by its very nature than a LAN. Any corporation or entity with information worth stealing, isn't going to be getting rid of their LANs anytime soon. That would be insane. A LAN can have its access points physically secured and tightly controlled and monitored. You go wireless, and you've created a range where people can not only create their own potential access points, but snoop data broadcast over it. Even if it's encrypted, it can be recorded to be worked on cracking later.

Maybe there's some seriously groundbreaking wireless technology I'm not aware of about to take the IT world by storm, but barring that, I'll put money on the LAN having a long life to come. Certainly at least another 10 years, if not much more.

LANs get faster (GigaBit) and get optical (1)

crovira (10242) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252654)

and get encryption from router to node in order to prevent exposure.

LANs are not going away.

They're getting "stealth" techniques.

Re:As long as the need for a secure network exists (5, Insightful)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251580)

It's not LAN vs wireless, it's LAN vs WAN.

Running a WAN without using LANs throughout is nonsense. IIRC a WAN is just bridged LANs by definition. Proposing that all the LANs will have one node is just silly.

Typical Bob Metcalfe of recent years. The man has lost it. Granted I haven't bothered reading anything he's written in a few years.

Re:As long as the need for a secure network exists (1)

riseoftheindividual (1214958) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252202)

It's not LAN vs wireless, it's LAN vs WAN.

I got the WAN part, but for some reason, when I read it the first time I got wireless in my head. Weird. My argument still stands for the same reasons. That would be crazy to put your most sensitive data on a server directly connected to one big WAN shared by everyone.

Re:As long as the need for a secure network exists (2, Informative)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251606)

My thought exactly. When I first started working for the company I do now, every one of the workstations on campus had a public IP address. And then all of the sudden people started getting Net Send messages for Viagra.

I don't want every computer in the world to be able to see my computer, at least not directly. Perhaps I'm missing a point here but seems to me that as long as there is a need for firewalls, there is going to be a need for LAN's.

NAT != Firewall. (4, Informative)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252174)

There's nothing more to say to you until you get that one, crucial point: Firewalls do not have to be NATs, and NATs don't have to firewall. And you need a firewall whether or not you have a NAT.

Once you do, understand that NAT is a brutally ugly hack. It's much easier and more powerful to simply be able to open a firewall port than to have to forward ports.

And you do need a firewall on your computer -- that, or just turn services off. If you don't do one of the two, wireless will bite you someday.

Re:As long as the need for a secure network exists (1)

jase001 (1171037) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251748)

Agreed, a LAN provides security and segregation from the wider networks (e.g. the Internet, other parts of the same company) where you control the points. Direct connect to wire-less or the Internet is probably not the best move. A company may comprise of many LANS, which is quite useful for controlling virus outbreaks, and mis-configured equipment.

Re:As long as the need for a secure network exists (0, Offtopic)

scottme (584888) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251922)

Actually most IBM offices do have WLAN access to their intranet, but with authentication and strong encryption (EAP-TLS).

Re:As long as the need for a secure network exists (1)

riseoftheindividual (1214958) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252146)

It's one thing to have WLAN access to an intranet, it's another thing to ditch your LAN altogether and make every machine wireless. A WLAN access point to the intranet can be tightly controlled and monitored. You can, for example, make sure that extremely sensitive information can not be accessed through the WLAN. It's one thing to give everyone acces to their email and the ability to print from wireless devices(though even email could be at risk), it's another thing to let people access the crown jewels of the companies most sensitive data via wireless. I would be very surprised if that was the case at IBM.

Re:As long as the need for a secure network exists (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252290)

you're right. When you think about it, the amount of electromagnetic and same spectrum interference can only go up from here really. My limit is one disconnect or five packets delayed more than 1000 milliseconds PER MONTH or I'm continously pissed at anything wireless. And living next to a huge power transformer station...well let's just say I run a 50 foot cable through my house now. LAN is never going to die in favor of wireless. The fastest way to get a news broadcast with no delay from the other side of the world is fiber under the ocean and that's never going to change.

Re:As long as the need for a secure network exists (1)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252352)

you're confusing two different concepts, as I understand he argues the LAN as we know it, aka machines talking to some form of gateway or internal server will go away in favor of an "all internet" connectivity. What is not the same as replacing wired LAN with a wireless architecture that still maintains a local net.

Re:As long as the need for a secure network exists (1)

diamondsw (685967) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252450)

Not to mention those wireless LANs (yes, they're still a LAN!) have to connect back to wired at some point.

And once you get into a large corporation or datacenter, LANs, VLANs, and subnets multiply, they don't shrink.

Agreed, LANs are here to stay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22252486)

It would be a topological nightmare if every individual computer was part of one giant WLAN. As the 'Net is now, its segmented to hell and back. What is it segmented with? A whole lot of LANs.

Lets just look at one office building. A few years ago the average was 800 network devices in a single building, with the number steadily rising. [] A network device can be anything from a computer to a network printer. Even a VOIP phone system can count these days, as well as video conferencing equipment.

Just to keep TRACK of all this stuff everything will be segmented onto a number of virtual LANs. After all, many of these things DON'T need to be shared. Why should you be able to print something out on a corporation's printer when you can't even get into that part of the building? It's just a security risk.

It is a well known fact that the best way to secure a computer is to leave it unplugged from the Internet. Once you open that door you have a whole new set of problems. This is no different. To protect the network you are better of isolating it. However, Internet connections DO have their uses in business so you want to be able to put in a door.

This virtual doorway to the rest of the virtual world works just like a real door to the rest of the real world. The whole point is to create a chokepoint where security can make sure only the 'allowed traffic' gets through. By putting each one to an individual 'Net connection you are opening a whole mess of worms for no added benefit.

Real world analogy would be comparing the current network infrastructures to walled cities of the dark ages. The walls are great at keeping most annoyances away. The only thing you have to really worry about is those rare handful of people who will try to break in on their own with say a grappling hook to scale the wall and get in (read: 'hackers') or neighboring towns (read: other corporations, so corporate espionage). To deal with those you need other tools, such as your own personal army.

Continuing the analogy, if you take away the city walls (eg the LAN) the town becomes more a part of the world (WLAN) but now your guards and army (network admins and their teams) will be spending more time dealing with new problems created by it such as various forms of scavengers or bandits (hackers) that wouldn't of had the resources to deal the city walls if you had kept them.

Until you can prove conclusively that we are better off without LANs, you are going to have LANs. They are easier to maintain, familiar, and shield networks from a whole lot of potential problems that they wouldn't need to deal with so long as they are on a LAN.

LAN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22251410)

there will still be LANS for segmentation and security purposes.

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22251428)

There will always be networks that need to talk to each other, but no way in hell are they going to want to be connected to the outside.

End of the LAN? Not really. (4, Interesting)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251452)

People and businesses will always want to keep some things privately networked.

Or at least, they should, but then people do some pretty stupid things sometimes.

Re:End of the LAN? Not really. (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251846)

Since I don't see how AES is going to be cracked within a few decades. Seriously, that should be enough protection for a while. It is very possible to create VLAN's relying on cryptography on a wireless network.

Of course, there are a lot of other reasons why a LAN might be a better idea than WLAN, but network separation might not be the biggest issue.

Re:End of the LAN? Not really. (3, Interesting)

DigitAl56K (805623) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252514)

LAN's are not only about privacy and security, but also:

* Putting you in control of your own infrastructure
* Ensuring quality of service (e.g. bandwidth that is not shared with the rest of the world)
* Managing your own costs .. and more. Of course, as far as privacy and security is concerned, if the LAN goes away and we use an open network, the Government is going to be free to snoop on whatever traffic they like. Queue the "encryption" fanatics...

Well of course (2, Funny)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251466)

Don't trust any spec over 40.


Re:Well of course (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252232)

Offtopic for the article but on topic for your comment, I'm old enough to remember when they said "Never trust anyone over 30".

They were right. They should have added, however, that you shouldn't trust anyone under 31 either.

Re:Well of course (2, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252264)

Don't trust any spec over 40.
Really? In that case:

I pronounce imminent the death of:
the mouse
the QWERTY keyboard

and lots of other completely useless technology.

nope. no walled garden in the WorldWide WAN (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251468)

thus business isn't going there.

40? Maybe not 50 (1)

aitikin (909209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251490)

I'd say it's going to make 40, especially seeing as we're having such grave difficulties with deploying wireless networks to begin with. I live in an apartment building where everyone has a wireless network and I wish we all didn't. It ends up causing more interference then the campus where there's a WAP every 50 feet! Wireless has to come a long way still and I don't quite see it happening in only 10 years.

Re:40? Maybe not 50 (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252204)

And 802.11n will only make things worse. Each user will be taking up 3 (or is it just 2?) wide channels! I know 5Ghz is part of the 802.11n spec, but I wonder if most people will unknowingly default to 2.4Ghz... What a nightmare.

We have a satellite building where I was able to detect 50... yeah, that's right, *50*, other 802.11b/g APs with iStumbler. Sometimes I just want to find the person who decided it woudl be a good idea to allocate 11 *overlapping* channels for 802.11b and punch them in the face.


Re:40? Maybe not 50 (1)

gmack (197796) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252608)

I maintain networks for several customers for all the "wireless is cheaper to deploy" crap I keep hearing I've discovered that the pain and cost of putting in cat5e/cat6 can pay for itself within the first two years just counting the service cost of me having to constantly come in and debug why xx machine can't connect or why everything is dog slow.

Meanwhile I'm happy with my cat6 install in my apartment. I have every machine in the house wired except the bathroom and it works flawlessly.

The only speed issue I have is the fact that XBMC would have been much happier if the Xbox had come with a gigabit network interface rather than 100mbps.

LAN or WAN (5, Insightful)

lthown (737539) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251492)

doesn't matter what you want to call it, two computers connected to a local router/hub is a LOCAL area network.

Re:LAN or WAN (1)

jackb_guppy (204733) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251564)

No, it is called am "On Ramp".

IPv6 for the win (1)

Rod76 (705840) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251510)

"Besides dipping into networking nostalgia, the article also quotes an analyst who says the LAN may be nearing its demise and predicts that all machines will be individually connected to one huge WAN at gigabit speeds." Although it would be throwing security out the windows (pun intended), IPv6 could facilitate this giant WAN concept.

Yawn... (4, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251516)

Yes yes, and we'll have flying cars and robots cooking our meals.

Prognosticator didn't used to be a synonym for clueless shithead. Thanks to Dvorak, that has changed, and looking at the clueless shitheads he's spawned.

Re:Yawn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22251698)

we'll have flying cars and robots cooking our meals.
Robots I can understand, but how the hell is a flying car gonna cook your food? :)

Rumours of LAN's demise... (1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251524)

...have been greatly exaggerated, methinks.

From TFA:

Firms are finding that they can skip cabling and adopt wireless networks. The next step is to give each machine a direct Internet connection, with appropriate security technology, skipping the LAN, he predicted.

Nice caveat..."appropriate security technology"...that one reason is why this move to the "huge WAN" won't be happening anytime soon.

Re:Rumours of LAN's demise... (1)

Sta7ic (819090) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251724)

Very relevant caveat, but you have to ask the follow-up question about (security) software monocultures when every computer has its own globally unique address.

"Oops! Windows XXLP has a glaring vulnerability in~"

Re:Rumours of LAN's demise... (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251828)

What he's describing is merely an infrastructure change, not fundamentally different than going from co-ax to twisted pair. Yes, it will be via WiFi, but it's still in a LAN. One of the branch offices I administer has an access point for a notebook and a few computers located where it would be difficult to get Ethernet into, but they're still on a LAN segment. If I decided tomorrow to pull out all the Ethernet save between the access point and the router, they'd still be on a LAN segment.

Re:Rumours of LAN's demise... (1)

Znork (31774) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251872)

Uh huh. I find it more likely that we'll see a huge advance in on-site corporate cell and wireless blockers, to prevent exactly that 'each machine with a direct internet connection'. They didnt build and implement all those pesky internet filters just to have the employees stick an cell card in their laptop and bypass it.

Not to mention that comparatively, wireless is about as fast as a dial-up modem used to be ten years ago. You can live with it. If you have no other choice.

Personally I need/want gigabit speeds to the desktop to implement diskless iSCSI-SAN-based clients at work, and lets just say wireless doesn't quite cut it for that, nor do I expect it to ever do that in a high-density area like an office.

Re:Rumours of LAN's demise... (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252224)

Nice caveat..."appropriate security technology"...that one reason is why this move to the "huge WAN" won't be happening anytime soon.

So what's the advantage of a LAN? NAT?

Erm... If you're just using a NAT as a firewall, why not use, I don't know, an actual firewall? Router/firewall doesn't have to imply NAT.

Who the hell pays "Analysts?" (1)

mechsoph (716782) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251530)

Could the LAN actually be nearing the end of its lifecycle?

Pending some fantastic breakthrough, it will always be cheaper and easier to send lots of data across a small distance than to send lots of data across a long distance. Thus LAN technology will be faster/cheaper and continue to exist.

The LAN Will Live On because of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22251534)


Having every machine potentially accessible by every other machine out there is a serious security issue.

going away? (4, Insightful)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251540)

Could the LAN actually be nearing the end of its lifecycle?

Not as long as they let me control my own home network...

Re:going away? (1, Redundant)

dpilot (134227) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251800)

They came for the xxx, and I said nothing, because I was not xxx.
Then they came for the yyy, and I said nothing, because I was not yyy.
etc, etc, etc

Then they came for the home networkers, and I couldn't complain, because there was no route available...

How many subnets in your home does it take to qualify?

Not a chance... (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251584)

LANs are still a necessary part of school web filters and organizing computers by room and such.
At home they make LAN parties possible and simplify sharing file without dependence on an active/good internet connection

How did I net thee? (2, Funny)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251588)

Let me count the ways:

Token Ring
Ethernet: Thick/thin/UTP/STP/fibre/wireless

Re:How did I net thee? YOU FORGOT (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251898)

Token Ring
Ethernet: Thick/thin/UTP/STP/fibre/wireless

You forgot SneakerNet.

Sneakernet is over 35 years old (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252156)

According to Wikipedia [] the first writable floppy came out in '72.

I guess if you count code printouts handed around to be retyped, sneakernet is even older.

By contrast, sneaker-less inter-computer email dates back to at least 1966 [] and was one of the earliest popular applications of the ARPANET, the precursor to today's Internet.

Re:How did I net thee? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22252040)

And now it's WAN, bam, thank you LAN

'LAN' ? (3, Funny)

Stavr0 (35032) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251592)

"Are you from the past?" -- Roy, The IT Crowd

We call that 'Intranet' nowadays.

We should sing it a song (1)

crazygonutz (1230760) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251612)

Title says it all!

I, for one... (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251614) NOT miss our ARCnet-wielding overlords.

DIP switches to set the address, and without a list of existing addresses, was a recipe for disaster for fresh installs. In addition it used coax, which some of the older field techs here can probably attest to having seen crimped with pliers. Terminators on both ends.


Yup, it's much better to network today.

Re:I, for one... (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251964) NOT miss our ARCnet-wielding overlords.

Compared to NO NETWORK, ARCnet wasn't bad.

Re:I, for one... (1)

Lxy (80823) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252076)

Terminators on both ends

You're supposed to terminate ARCnet? That explains a lot......

OK, so a testament to ARCnet. Our ARCnet implentation looked more like a TV coax set up. Need to add a computer? Just Y the coax off again. Somebody sold a 3 way splitter gizmo, as long as you used it in combination with the repeater/hub it worked. Well, sort of.

I wonder how well it would have worked had we actually terminated it.

Re:I, for one... (1)

Stavr0 (35032) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252288)

CoAx? Luxury!

I had to install a 50 workstation LAN with UTP cabling and hand-crimped 50 ohm terminating resistors onto RJ11 plugs.


Both ways

not likely... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22251634)

As long as there are computer games and booze there will continue to be LAN parties.

Re:not likely... (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252274)

OMG PLEASE tell me booze isn't going away!!!

BTW, the magic number is 42, not 40.

Nothing will last 10 more years... (1)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251646)

Aren't the robots supposed to take over the world soon anyway? -Taylor

Re:Nothing will last 10 more years... (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252330)

No, not robots. Cyborgs. I'm a cyborg. [] The Vice President of the US is a cyborg. Your grandma is probably a cyborg.

You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

This has been brought up before... (1)

DJ Jones (997846) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251654)

LAN will never disappear for one reason... Security.

That's what she said.

Silly prediction... (3, Insightful)

MavEtJu (241979) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251656)

The LAN as we knew it, the one ethernet cable going through all rooms and being looped on the wall with a small jumper, is already dead for a long time.

The LAN as we know it, one central switch with a lot of ethernet cables getting out to individual ports in rooms, has been here for ages.

What didn't go away was the local addressing methods for sending data to all hosts (broadcast) and interaction with higher level protocols (ARP for determining the IP address).

The LAN as we are going to know it, a bunch of intercepted central-and-not-so-central switches which put you in the right (V)LAN when you plug in your computer to a random port connected to it, is here also if your organisation requires it, but for smaller organisations this is not really necessary:

and predicts that all machines will be individually connected to one huge WAN at gigabit speeds

You need a gigabit WAN for that to work, not all smaller organisations have the need for this. But yes I have rolled it out for two customers.

Re:Silly prediction... (1)

Bandman (86149) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252668)

yadda yadda yadda subscribe to your newsletter, etc etc etc

Seriously though, I'd be interested in talking to you about methods for getting separate sites networked together properly. I'm just looking for advice to see if I'm doing it the right way. Do you mind if I toss you an email?

Er, what? (1)

Sta7ic (819090) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251672)

All machines networked together? Does this guy know how businesses use VPNs? Has the adage "If you don't want it known, don't use the phone" been forgotten?

As long as there are secrets to keep, machines will be kept off the big networks, behind firewalls, and completely offline as appropriate. Starry-eyed visions of global networks are outright absurd.

Re:Er, what? (1)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251822)

Agreed. I have a LAN so I can move as many of my pr0n and consumer grade video files to whatever machine I need to for the cost of the wires and the router. Why on Earth would I want to then move my large data via my ISP so they can charge me a shitload for bandwidth that I already have in house and paid for? Perhaps I'll just use sneakernet in this brave new world! Really bad thinking on Bob's part. We must be on his lawn.

Absolutely not (1)

EddyPearson (901263) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251722)

"Could the LAN actually be nearing the end of its lifecycle?"

No. The security implications of every single device being connected to one big WAN are obvious.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Token Ring (4, Interesting)

ngr8 (504185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251756)

Funny. I'd been talking about this MiniTruth and Token Ring phenomena with a friend just the other day. Whilst being all corporate, actually had an IBM SE come up to me and tell me that I was risking my [redacted big honkin company] through the advocacy of Ethernet.

Two months later, at a big conference for all True Believers conducted by IBM, actually heard IBM plants in the audience doing the amen corner thing with Greek Chorus of "alas, Ethernet would kill the King" lines.... up to the "802.3 will make it hurt when you pee" level of nonsense.

The fact that a 3745 [burly iron werken] running remotely was actually running on the backup token ring thingie for a month before it fell over and died because the primary ring had never worked [vague memory of route discovery]was, well, pretty f'n sweet.

IBM's always been a great company, seriously, but the LAN wars were not its finest hour.

Re:Lies, Damn Lies, and Token Ring (1)

nullCRC (320940) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251892)

IBM's always been a great company, seriously, but the LAN wars were not its finest hour.

Tell that to the 8,000 who just got the 15% pay cut.

Re:Lies, Damn Lies, and Token Ring (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251974)

And yet fibre channel loops are essentially token ring and fabrics are switched. High speed networks work better with tokens than with collision detect and you can use a higher percentage of the bandwidth. The problem with collision detect is the idle time waiting to make sure that you are the only one trying to talk. For short packets you lose up to 50% of the bandwidth.

security issue (1)

PureCreditor (300490) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251764)

unless every computer is running OpenBSD level of security, i wont trust business-confidential and mission-critical systems lying around a huge global WAN with no firewall to offer some level of protection.

Besides, data requirements will go up, so when our WAN gets to gigabit level speeds, our LAN might approach terabit.

10 years ago we were satisfied with basic web pages and a couple javascripts. currently we're satisfied with AJAX and that low-quality feed from YouTube. 10 years from now we might need high-def 3D virtual reality rendered locally. who knows?

LAN and WAN will both go up in speeds, but the one thing i wont bet on is LAN's demise just yet.

LAN going away... probably not. (1)

erpbridge (64037) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251836)

I don't really think the LAN will ever become obsolete. There will always be unmanaged network equipment that is cheaper and higher speed than that which the Internet provider can supply.

For residential with a small number of computers and a relatively unsophisticated network layout (a few computers that do minor file/print sharing, a laptop or two, a game console), yes, the wireless gig connection straight to Internet may be the replacement for the LAN as we know it.

For many in the Slashdot crowd, who have a file server at home with movies, music, VM images, and maybe 3 or 4 computers that use that... then the need for a local network that connects at faster speeds than wireless gig can offer might possibly be a need. I know personally I have a wired gig network at home, and many times I think that it is relatively slow to transfer a gig in a few minutes... imagine if in the future I purchase a 50GB 1080p movie with DRM licensing to watch on 3 authorized devices, download it on my wireless gig Internet connection and it finishes in about half an hour, and store it on my home media center... then I decide to watch it on the TV somewhere else in the house. A half hour copy time (putting streaming and buffering aside for the moment) would be slow, whereas having a 10Gbps or a 1Tbps connection would let me copy it in a minute or two.

Educational institutions, such as colleges, would have even more of a need, as they would have local NAS storage with stored video lectures. All students streaming on a single 1Gbps feed would quickly overload the server. Instead, a 10Gbps or 1Tbps connection on the local network would again be worthwhile.

Companies, such as the US Government, biochemical, or industrial companies, would almost certainly have a need for a LAN, just to keep business practices secret and minimize corporate espionage leaks.

ISPs (3, Interesting)

spartacus06 (1121201) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251874)

As long as residential ISPs only let you have 1 IP address, there will be LANs. Maybe they will get more generous with IPv6 (yeah right).

The Wireless Future (1)

dcray2000 (969850) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251952)

Since the Federation is ok with the Romlulans hearing their encrypted subspace signals then it should be fine to broadcast sensitive information to the entire planet.

FACTOR breakthrough assumption? (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#22251958)

The blind march to a fully connected and wired rule is horrifically dependent upon an unknown and unproven set of assumptions in computer science that underpin much of our present security infrastructure. We have not proven that FACTOR is NP-Complete, don't know if P=NP or not, and so, there's absolutely nothing to rule out some future innovation that allows for not only rapid factoring, but possibly even P=NP. There are certainly long odds against this happening, but it could happen, and it seems to me that we ought to be congnizant of the risks that we are taking. A theoretical breakthrough in computer science could render much of cryptography obsolete, and with it the promise of secure messaging and storage on any third party computer.

Re:FACTOR breakthrough assumption? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22252088)

Can someone with a PHD decipher this into english?

Futuristic speculation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22252014)

What is with the obsession over guessing what any aspect of life is going to be like in X number of years? The fact is, there is an infinite number of events than can happen between now and 2050, and nobody can even begin to imagine how our lives will be molded by then. Come on, modern life as we know it in first world countries has only been around for a couple of decades. Technology hardly even existed 100 years ago. You really think the people of early 20th century knew where we'd be today?

The worst part is, technical minds always base future possibilities based on existing technologies. "LAN vs WLAN". Wow, how narrow-minded that those are the only choices. Having fun with "I wonder if so and so will be like so and so in x years" is fine. But to the technically minded who somehow believe they know where technology's going to land us in more than 10-30 years time, get real. You have no clue. Admit you're not all-knowing, and move on.

Why does mankind seem to always operate in a "we've already learned everything about science and technology" mindset? I mean really, making the assumption that we'll even be using TCP in 50 years is laughable.

it's not really ABOUT the future (1)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252438)

These debates are often really disguised debates about the present, about what technology or practise in the present is the best. By arguing that such-and-such will dominate in the future, you are really making a statement about its quality or promise in the present, which is what matters to you. It's a form of appeal to authority argument, where the "authority" in this case is future history. (If X dominates in the future, it must be that X is the superior technology or practise.) It's a slightly different form of the argument that appeals to use by more successful organizations or countries. (If X is used by company/country Y, whom we all know to be successful, then it must be that X is the superior technology or practise.)

The LAN is dead, long live the WWAN (2)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252022)

Since the rise of switches and demise of hubs, the topological difference between a LAN and a WAN is a lot less important.

In the old days, the concept of "lan segments" actually had meaning. Barring special redundancy features, a flaky device or a kink in the cable could bring down the whole network. Now it typically brings down just the link between two devices.

Now Ethernet is pretty much point-to-point: device-to-switch/router or switch-router to switch/router along a dedicated connection.

The local area network is dead. Long live the world-wide-area-network.

MAC buffers (1)

emj (15659) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252374)

I woul love to see the MAC lookup tables on one of those world wide switches. it makes complaining about the unrelated jumbo frame buffers seem like small potato.

But yes long live the World Wide LAN, and the new SAN Stelar area network.

LAN may of turn 30 (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252028)

but COAX shakes it's copper at you and tells you to keep your computer turned on and stay off it's lawn.

Where's The List of Token Ring Flaws (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252056)

So where's the complete list of Token Ring flaws, deficiencies, short-comings, fud, and the rest?

Re:Where's The List of Token Ring Flaws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22252200)

1. Price

That's all that was needed to get cheapernet cables installed for the low end unix boxes, then PCs came with them built in, or had cheap eth cards available. Onto the networks they came. With market penetration came the demand for higher and higher speed. Token ring remained very expensive, especially for the big iron.

Cheapernet won.

I love ARCnet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22252090)

As a collector of 40 year old Tektronix oscilloscopes, the only realistic source I have for 93 ohm coax is old ARCnet sites. I scavenge around schools and liquidators looking for spools of the stuff. Found some one day and I was quite happy. I was less happy with the fact it was plenum cable on a spool; the jacket had taken the shape of the spool and the center conductor was copper-plated steel. Not too flexible, even in the 4 feet lengths I needed it.

IPv6 (1)

hilather (1079603) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252104)

While the article doesn't really mention IPv6, it is somewhat implied that this is what the computers of the future would use to wirelessly connect to the WAN. Being a student of telecommunications at Sheridan college I'm not entirely conviced that the LAN will ever disappear for a few reasons. NAT is still widely used, and welcomed by companies, its more secure, its well documented, tested and true (Although thats not to say it doesn't have its own problems). That alone convinces me LANs will never disappear. LAN's provide more then just a connection to the internet, they allow the sharing of resources and services to other machines on the same network, resources and services that you may not feel comfortable sharing on the internet. Our Telecommunications course doesn't even touch on IPv6. LAN's will be around in some form or another forever. There will always be a need for sharing internal resources.

Every doorway opens onto a freeway? (4, Insightful)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252108)

That reasoning amounts to expecting every doorway from every room to open onto a major automotive freeway.

LANs will survive indefinitely precisely because sometimes your data is just feet or yards away ... and because even Internet backbones can't handle the load of routing data for everyone's personal networked printers, storage servers, and media terminals.

Forgot about security (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22252118)

predicts that all machines will be individually connected to one huge WAN at gigabit speeds.
Before you can connect directly to a WAN, you need to believe in the security of the WAN.

The past 10 years have shown us that WAN security hasn't improved much -- mainly because it's so thorougly dependent on human behavior.

So I doubt that 10 years from now we will have the robust security infrastructure that I need to be comfortable connecting directly to a WAN.

A good case in point is Microsoft: They still distribute their systems with a whole bunch of unnecessary services that listen on various ports, each ready to execute whatever commands are sent to them.

Knowing this, companies are forced into adopting a LAN architecture, so that they have the necessary choke points to insert better security.

In fact, in my company, the trend is to break up the LAN into department-sized mini-LANs to help increase security. If anything, the future trend is likely to be toward MORE usage of LANs to enhance security.

Reliability (4, Funny)

KalvinB (205500) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252172)

Until WAN routers are cheap and reliable, it won't happen. I've had the same $30 Netgear router I've had for 5 years without any issues. My Belkin wireless router can't go a day without being unreliable. The Mac Mini had a hard time connecting to web-sites until we switched from wireless to LAN.

When you need 100% uptime you can go with a $30 router or spend significantly more than that for a wireless router and network card that won't ever drop your connection.

I'll keep my wires thank you very much.

heh. DUMB! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22252298)

Yes, because having all the machines of your business connected to THE WAN makes perfect security sense.

Yeah but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22252316)

Leonard Nimoy, nude and in character

!= end of LAN (1)

CranberryKing (776846) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252378)

People who think a LAN is just a cheap way of sharing an Internet connection across many heterogeneous hosts don't understand what a LAN is and why you would have one. Not all computers are fancy web surfing terminals.

Additionally, the Internet is often used simply to link multiple LANS or.. a WAN.. or a MAN. This has lead to the rise of the DAN, FAN, STAN, PLAN, TAN and unfortunately the KLAN.

Lessons from Ghost in the Shell: Risk Management (1)

Tetsujin (103070) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252546)

In all likelihood wired local networks will continue to be useful for a long time. Among other things, the fact that the link is tangible makes it good for risk management. Want it disconnected? Unplug the cable. Under those circumstances, there's nothing software can do to re-establish the connection. Likewise, physical security of a data link is much easier to establish if the link is tangible. Home users aren't likely to care about this but corporate users probably will.

Beyond that, as long as tangible links are faster than wireless links, and as long as an increase in the physical density of wireless links decreases the overall availability of the network to each client, wired links will continue to be advantageous.

What is my computer going to connect to? (1)

Digital_Quartz (75366) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252616)

One day I'm sure I'll have a fiber optic cable coming into my house, but am I going to connect every machine in the house to its own fiber optic cable? What's going to distribute that high speed connection to all the machines in my house? The blogosphere?

I suppose you can make an argument that every machine will be addressable from the public network with its own IPv6 address, and thus they're all part of one big happy network. You're still going to have a firewall in between your machines and the rest of the network, though.
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