Content switching, server load balancing, intelligent switching, Layer 4 switching, session switching, application switching. Like any maturing technology, no one name has been accepted to encompass all that content switching covers. We will use the term content switching throughout this book, as it appears to be the most commonly used method by which to express this technology. However, please understand that even this might change depending on what your requirements are.
Therefore, before we begin our journey through the workings and terminology of content switching, we should first pause and understand where and how this technology evolved.
Without a doubt, the roots of content switching can be tied directly to the growth of the Internet in the late 1990s, where Ethernet and TCP/IP became the king of the corporate networks. Suddenly, network manufacturers were not focusing their research and development staff on Token Ring, ATM, or FDDI, or protocols such as IPX, SNA, or NetBIOS, but rather on how to leverage this new and growing phenomenon that was being driven by the unilateral acceptance of TCP/IP and Ethernet across the globe.