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2020 - A Look Back (It wasn't all bad)

December is the time of the year to pause and take a look back at the past eleven months. As we prepare to welcome (wholeheartedly) 2021, let’s reflect on some milestones of 2020. There is no doubt that this 2020 harbored many well documented challenges. As we continue to work through those challenges, let’s review some of the more positive events from the year.

Tech Breakthroughs

There have been technological breakthroughs during 2020 in Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and switching speeds that have a wide range of positive applications. In spite of the pandemic, we continued to innovate.

• According to a Forbes magazine article, AI advances allow climate scientists to closely attribute the role of climate change to severe weather events. This knowledge allows individuals and communities to better predict and prepare for weather disasters.

• In another example, using advanced AI and machine learning technology, a human/machine collaboration was used by scientists to identify a powerful new antibiotic from scratch. This type of advancement allows millions of molecules to be evaluated quickly, further shortening the timeline between disease discovery and cures or vaccines.

• Reinforcement Learning is an AI technology that rewards computer actions in optimal pursuit of a specified goal within an unknown environment. Google is using this technology to keep internet access balloons on course in a specified area. These balloons are bringing internet connectivity to areas around the globe where other methods of internet access have been destroyed or made unavailable by natural disaster.

• IEEE Standard P802.3cm was approved as a new standard in 2020 creating the latest 400Gb/s Ethernet standard using multimode fiber. This is the highest standardized Ethernet speed and is used by Google, Alibaba, Amazon in their large-scale enterprise data centers. Other applications may include 5G switch trunking for mobile carriers and other large data centers.

SmartNA-PortPlus HyperCore™ Introduced

Network Critical introduced the SmartNA-PortPlus HyperCore™ Packet Broker in 2020. This new product family represents a breakthrough in network visibility for monitoring and security tool management. Why is this important?

Security and monitoring are critical for all networks. Complete and accurate visibility of network traffic is foundational to understanding the network, protecting the network and planning for growth of the network. The pace of switching technology improvements is outpacing the processing ability of network monitoring tools. As networks meet the demand for faster switching, monitoring and security tools must also be able to keep pace with new media and speeds. Opening, inspecting and passing packets with limited delay at 10Gbps is challenging. Managing the same tasks at 100Gbps, 200Gbps and 400Gbps is massively more complex.

The SmartNA-PortPlus HyperCore™ Packet Broker allows network managers to continue to monitor and protect their networks using existing off-the-shelf tools. Most tools today cannot perform at 400Gbps. However, using the new HyperCore Packet Broker to connect, aggregate, filter, map and load balance traffic, legacy monitoring and security tools can be utilized with new high-speed links.

Networks do not need to sacrifice security for speed. They do not need to sacrifice accuracy for speed. They do not need to break the budget for speed. The SmartNA-PortPlus HyperCore™ can provide accurate access and visibility to 100% of network traffic at speeds ranging from 10/25/40/100/200/400Gbps while using existing monitoring tools. Size (1RU), throughput (non-blocking system throughput of 25.6Tbps) and flexibility (any port/any speed) are stunning.

As networks are requiring faster speeds to keep up with rapidly changing norms such as work from home and on-line shopping, this is, indeed, bright news. For more information about network monitoring and security in a high-speed environment, go to

Vaccines on the Way

While a global pandemic quickly and dramatically changed our lives, science and technology rose to the occasion developing at least three potent vaccines that will help the world battle COVID-19. Assuming these vaccines prove safe and effective, the timeline from the initial outbreak of COVID to the development of an effective vaccine is nothing short of a technological miracle. Here is a perspective…

• While Smallpox has been on the planet since the 3rd century BC, it took a global effort and major technological advances from 1967 to 1980 to eradicate the disease, 13 years.

• Plague is one of the oldest diseases on earth and still has no effective vaccine. Excellent treatments have been developed but no vaccine.

• Typhoid fever was first discovered in 1880. The first vaccines became generally available in 1914, 34 years later.

• The Influenza pandemic of 1918 was deadly and compared by many to the Covid pandemic. It took 27 years to develop and distribute an effective Influenza vaccine.

There are many more examples of populations struggling with deadly pandemics without vaccines. Our current state of technology and history with diseases past, have allowed us to develop what appears to be highly effective vaccines within the same year of Covid-19 introduction. This is bright news for a dark year.

Science and technology are successfully mitigating many of the 2020 challenges and bringing new innovations to market. While we all look forward to a brighter 2021, for now, stay optimistic, stay safe and enjoy the holidays. Cheers from Network Critical.


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