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Nets being cast far beyond 100 GbE

Anyone who thinks the Ethernet path will conclude with 100 GbE is mistaken for it appears it is simply going to be the springboard for a whole new era of computing.


March 1, 2013  


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Anyone who thinks the Ethernet path will conclude with 100 GbE is mistaken for it appears it is simply going to be the springboard for a whole new era of computing.

In this issue’s cover story: Clearing Out 100 GbE Roadblocks, Dhritiman Dasgupta, senior director of product marketing for Juniper Networks, points out that standard bodies have already moved on and are “talking” 400, 800 and even 1 Terabyte Ethernet.

“Networks have been bombarded over the last five years and are reeling to catch up with the changes we’re seeing in enterprise and data centre ecosystems. We’ve moved from mainframe to client-server to distributed architectures”.

At the recent BICSI Winter Conference in Tampa, I sat down with Nathan Benton, technical director for the North American Region with Commscope Inc., to discuss the speed factor that is transforming the smart building as much as it is the data centre.

There is an obvious need for more speed, which was a key point of a presentation he gave entitled How Will Networks of the Future Effect Infrastructure Decision Today.

In the data centre, he said, the migration to high-speed Ethernet is a hot topic and as far smart buildings everything will be connected online in an IP-based environment: “The IEEE is out there working on what the hardware requirements are so that we can get a jump on what the cabling requirements are. It looks like, for all intents and purposes, it will be single mode fiber”.

It is a cliché, to be sure, but as far as the copper-fiber debate, this certainly seems where the rubber will meet the road and Benton concurs.

News about the continuing evolution of Ethernet is everywhere. Last year, the IEEE 802.3 Industry Connections Higher Speed Ethernet Consensus group was formed. Participants include users and producers of systems and components for telecommunications carriers, Internet exchanges, financial markets, data centres, multiple system operators, high-performance computing and network storage and servers.

Its members came together following the release of the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Bandwidth Assessment Report that revealed “the global bandwidth requirements of multiple applications continuing an exponential climb.”

The findings, which are available on the IEEE Web site, forecasts that networks will need to support capacity requirements of 1 terabit per second in 2015 and 10 terabits per second by 2020.

“(The) report offers a simple, but meaningful explanation of the underlying forces that are driving the never-ending, global bandwidth explosion,” said Brad Smith, senior vice president and industry analyst with market research firm LightCounting.com.

“The data from smartphones, tablets, PCs and another 16 billion devices forecasted to be on the Internet by 2020 all flow through the wireless, CATV and wired access points, through the metro, long-haul and undersea networks, to a data centre server anywhere in the world.

“Add to this the dramatic increase in the use of live and streaming video, and the data traffic calculations become simply astronomical. The only way all these different devices are going to communicate with each other is via industry standards set by groups such as the IEEE.

According to an IEEE release, the report also confirms that growth is being driven across multiple application spaces and markets by simultaneous increases in users, access methodologies, access rates and services such as video on demand and social media.