This is partly because of the weak economy, but also because most enterprises are beginning to gear up for the convergence of their voice and data networks, said Martha Young, research director at Enterprise Management Associates.
"The focus is more on better leveraging existing infrastructures," Young said. However, enterprises are using new software tools to analyse how their networks are used, so they can later implement networks that deliver special service for the most important applications in use, she added.
At the show, Hewlett-Packard is unveiling a modular switch platform designed to deliver routing and application-based packet differentiation at an economical price.
3Com will introduce gear for connecting several of its routing switches into a single virtual device and will lay out a road map for 10-Gigabit Ethernet in the service-provider and enterprise networks.
Intel will detail plans for 10-Gigabit Ethernet, while Dell, a relative newcomer to the LAN industry that may help to shape its future, is privately showing intelligent routing switches and a computer with Gigabit Ethernet connectivity.
HP will unveil a modular switch platform with Layer 3 routing and Layer 4 application-based differentiation among packets. HP says the new Procurve Switch 5300xl series of switches will deliver these capabilities for as little as £67 per 10/100Mbps port.
That is a competitive list price in a market that will continue to see prices fall, according to Jason Smolek and analyst at research group IDC.
Also at N+I, HP will introduce a module for its Procurve Switch 4100 series that has spaces for six Gigabit Ethernet fiber interfaces. The 4100 series Layer 2 standard switches, which are priced starting at £42 per port, will get free software upgrades for Layer 3 routing by the end of this year, said Stan Takata, an HP product manager.
The new products are expected to begin shipping on 1 June.