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10G Ethernet Aims for the Enterprise

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For Corey Corrick, the allure of 10G Ethernet is great. Corrick is hoping

to use powerhouse speeds to move files across his large enterprise


”Right now, we store everything in our SAN,” says Corrick, technology

services manager at Guidestone Financial Resources of the Southern

Baptist Convention in Dallas. ”We move some pretty big files around and

those are only going to get bigger and bigger, so any more bandwidth we

can get we’d be better off.”

Corrick notes he is looking to roll out 10G Ethernet within three years.

”That’s when I think the prices will start coming down,” he says. Today

he sees costs at about five times his current Gigabit Ethernet

infrastructure. For instance, he says he priced a Gigabit Ethernet card

at $600, while the 10G Ethernet card was $3,000.

While he admits that prices are still higher for 10G Ethernet

infrastructure, John Yen, senior manager of switching product marketing

at Cisco Systems, Inc. in San Jose, Calif., says there are many reasons

to make the move.

One driver for the upgrade to 10G Ethernet, which operates over fiber, is

the increase in gigabit speeds to the desktop, Yen says. The applications

that gigabit to the desktop enables, such as back-ups, video-on-demand,

large e-mail attachments and network-enabled file sharing, call for

bigger pipes.

”To scale proportionally with the rest of your network, you need to move

to 10G Ethernet,” he says

Kevin Tolly, founder of testing firm The Tolly Group in Boca Raton, Fla.,

says 10G Ethernet started out in the high-speed computing and clustering

arena, but is quickly becoming a viable option in the enterprise for data

centers, core infrastructure and even uplinks from wiring closets.

”For the enterprise, the benefit of bigger bandwidth comes when you’re

shoveling data from one point to another on an ad-hoc basis,” he says.

As an example, he points to financial services firms, like Guidestone,

that want to crunch economic data from each quarter. ”Client stations

and second-tier servers hold hundreds of gigabytes of data, so there’s no

bottleneck there. The network interface cards can handle the load so

that’s not a problem. So you need an uplink like 10G Ethernet that can

support these tasks,” Tolly says.

In enterprises today, Tolly says he sees Gigabit Ethernet uplinks being

shared among 24, 48 or 92 users. ”I hope that all those folks aren’t

doing video streaming or CAD/CAM design because one user could congest

the entire uplink,” he says.

He points to health care as an example of an industry that could use 10G

Ethernet networking. If a person decides they need to replicate a series

of digitized x-rays for research purposes, they could take up 80 percent

of the uplink for hours, Tolly says. ”The remaining users would have to

share 200M bit/sec of the Gigabit Ethernet uplink and that’s when 10G

Ethernet starts to look good,” he adds.

Corrick agrees and is finding himself in a similar situation.

”Our applications are talking more and more to each other and sharing a

lot more data in real time. Today, Gigabit Ethernet meets our need, but

in two to three years, that will change,” he says.

But hospitals and financial services are not the only industries that are

dipping into the 10G Ethernet networking pool.

Val Oliva, product line manager for Foundry Networks, Inc. in San Jose,

Calif., says the entertainment industry is a big fan of the bandwidth


”Of all the verticals, the entertainment industry is the most

predominant in its use of 10G Ethernet. They use it for their graphics

work and their movie editing,” he says.

Oliva says universities also are checking out the technology, but are

hesitant to deploy it campus-wide. ”They use 10G for their researchers

and administration, but not typically for students,” he explains. ”They

limit the expansion of 10G Ethernet in the data center and across campus

because they are price-sensitive and bandwidth-sensitive. If you give

students that much bandwidth, they’ll hog it.”

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