NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- We're only a couple weeks into 2011, but tech firms Juniper ( JNPR) , Riverbed ( RVBD) and Cisco ( CSCO) are already emerging as the networking sector's front runners, say analysts. Trends such as cloud computing, which delivers a host of services over the Internet, spell good news for companies that lay the networking foundations such as switches and routers.
"If you believe in the cloud story and if you believe in Apple ( AAPL) moving its base to on-demand and hosting services, you have to buy into the growth of networking," Avi Cohen, an analyst at Avian Securities, told TheStreet. Additionally, service providers are bolstering their networks to cope with the ongoing explosion in data-intensive traffic, which will further impact the companies in this space. Both Riverbed and Juniper hit 52-week highs recently, while Cisco, despite its recent problems, remains the dominant player in networking. Read on for more details on 2011's top networking stocks.