Monday, January 23, 2006

Gigabit Ethernet Applications...Is It A Fit For Your Organization?

In general 10 Gigabit Ethernet links are deployed in parts of an enterprise or service provider network where large numbers of Gigabit Ethernet links are being aggregated. This most commonly occurs in the network core, but as gigabit-to-the desktop deployments continue to grow the need for 10 Gigabit Ethernet uplinks from the network edge will emerge. Following are some common uses or applications for 10 Gigabit Ethernet.


As all enterprise applications converge on the common Ethernet backbone, the network must be able to gracefully support a new array of bandwidth hungry applications such as storage, backups and video. To effectively deal with this onslaught of bandwidth demand, forward-thinking network architects are designing enterprise networks with 10 Gigabit Ethernet to meet current and future needs.

Starting from the edge of the network, as gigabit-to-the-desktop deployments continue to grow, the need for 10 gigabit uplinks from a wiring closet switch to handle the performance demands of power users will emerge. Backbone links to entire floors or buildings may run over optical fibers at gigabit rates, while drops to desktop workstations may need to be no faster than 100 Mbps. Naturally, with this upsurge in bandwidth, demand 10 Gigabit Ethernet will be used as a high-speed interconnection between multiple buildings. These buildings could be in close proximity on a self-contained "campus", or could be many miles apart and be connected by dark fiber provided by a local service provider or municipality. Due to the limited distance of 10 Gigabit Ethernet on multimode fiber (MMF), singlemode
fiber (SMF) must be deployed or leased to support 10 gigabit building interconnects.

In an enterprise data center, 10 Gigabit Ethernet can be used in a variety of applications such as cluster computing, server attachment and storage interconnect.

High Performance Cluster Computing (HPCC)

Server clusters are a group of tens, hundreds or even thousands of relatively inexpensive (e.g. 1U Linux servers) computers (referred to as nodes) connected in parallel to cooperatively solve large, complex problems. Cluster computing has become a mainstream technological tool for research, financial modeling, digital image rendering and scientific applications. The connection between the various computers in the cluster is typically an Ethernet switch.

Gigabit Ethernet Servers and NAS

As servers and Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices are attached to the edge of the network at 10 gigabit speeds, the network core will have to scale proportionally by link aggregating multiple 10 Gigabit Ehternet links or eventually with 40 Gigabit Ethernet. Network archetecture must take into account meeting current Gigabit Ethernet and 10 Gigabit Ethernet server connectivity needs and scale upwards as the need for greater bandwidth inevitably emerges.

Storage Interconnect (iSCSI)

Fibre Channel has been the protocol of choice for storage area networking, however, with the emergence of the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) iSCSI protocol, Fibre Channel’s dominance is being challenged by IP/Ethernet. Simply put, iSCSI is an IP-based storage networking standard that facilitates data transfers by carrying SCSI (a protocol commonly used for communication between storage devices and computers) commands over IP networks. As iSCSI continues to gain in popularity, 10 Gigabit Ethernet links are the logical choice to carry the enormous volumes of data that traverse large corporate networks.

Given the extreme complex nature of designing an appropriate Gigabit Ethernet network's strongly suggested that you not dump this whole animal on your IT staff. At a minimum make use of free technical consultation for the bandwidth sourcing requirements from


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