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Networking's Future: Industry Innovators Speak Out

As the networking market emerges from the nuclear winter of the recent telecom crash, the question arises: Is innovation still a part of networking? And if so, where will it come from?

For the answer, we turned to experts in the field, who are largely optimistic about the future of innovation. However, that enthusiasm is tempered by predictions of tougher capital and spending markets, as well as harder work necessary to find niches where innovation could lead to product and company success.

So while the days of companies being founded on nothing more than a good idea might be past, there's still room at all points of the network infrastructure--from the underlying chips to the software, protocols, hardware, and applications--for innovation to deliver new services and perhaps new players to the networking arena.

Networking innovation, our experts agree, is needed to deliver the advanced services of the digitized future, from more reliable and more easily deployed broadband networks to feature-filled services for consumers and businesses, such as streaming video and VoIP.

All along the network's path, new technologies will be needed, starting at the chip and protocol level and proceeding up to the servers and routers that networks run on. Last but not least, there must also be innovative thinking on funding and the creation of new businesses, a prerequisite to surviving in a world where investment capital is scarce and increasingly scrutinized before it's parceled out.

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