Enterprises have seen an explosion of new applications, devices and classes of users on their LANs, which makes it harder than ever for IT to ensure network performance, secure corporate assets and comply with regulations. In response, next-generation intelligent LAN switches are emerging that are designed to provide stateful, deep-packet inspection up through Layer 7, providing granular user- and application-level controls.
Other network devices that have already “moved up” the protocol stack include WAN-acceleration platforms and load-balancing switches. Now, by maintaining state information, intelligent switches can forward based on flows instead of packets. Advanced deep-packet inspection provides user identity and L7 application detail in classifying flows, enabling IT to apply access and QoS policies far beyond the virtual LAN/ACL controls that traditional L3/L4 switches support.