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10 Gigabit Ethernet Technology and LAN, MAN, and WAN Networks

:: Ethernet Is Not a LAN-only Technology Anymore

10 Gigabit Ethernet Technology Overview

With the introduction of 10 Gigabit Ethernet, Ethernet is not a LAN-only technology anymore.

For most LAN backbones, 10 Gigabit Ethernet provides far more bandwidth than current demand. Wide Area Network (WAN) compatible 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GE) has become a very powerful and exciting solution when you consider its benefits from application in MANs, PoPs, and WANs.

:: 10 Gigabit Ethernet in the Enterprise

Ethernet is the actual LAN standard. During 1999, Gigabit Ethernet outshipped all other technologies, including ATM, for the first time.

The economics of 10 GE and growing demands for multi-gigabit capacity will draw 10 GE back into the more traditional LAN environments, such as the campus backbone and large enterprise data centers.

Although 10 GE is not an immediate LAN backbone requirement, the OC-192c data rate required for WAN-compatibility will have a significant impact on the business potential of Ethernet in the LAN.

For LAN players, this means early technology adoption costs will be absorbed by the WAN market, leaving the LAN market to enjoy a lower first-cost, fast time-to-market product introduction.

:: 10 Gigabit Ethernet in MAN/WAN Service Provider Points of Presence

10 Gigabit Ethernet in MAN/WAN

A Point of Presence (PoP) is typically considered the node that links a long distance network to a serving area, giving a service provider or enterprise a presence in the area and giving area users an economical way to access the provider’s services.

The demand for WAN-compatible 10 GE in Service Provider PoPs already exits, particularly as eCommnerce/eBusiness applications and high-speed Ethernet-based residential Internet access markets accelerate.

From an economic perspective, service providers see 10 GE as a catalyst to rapidly deliver new high bandwidth services more profitably and at a lower cost to their customers.

:: 10 Gigabit Ethernet versus Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM)

The technology of choice depends on the specific networking requirements and traffic characteristics. Not long ago, ATM was championed as the solution to meet bandwidth requirements in the backbone of enterprise networks.

But concerns about ATM networking cost, complexity, management and the lack of skilled staff have prevented significant ATM deployment in the enterprise.

Two key factors have catapulted Ethernet ahead of ATM usage in the enterprise.

  1. Familiarity of Ethernet among IT staffs. A massive installed base of human Ethernet capital makes it easier to find and cost-effectively hire IT staff.
  2. The price of ATM has remained high relative to Ethernet. Ethernet’s declining cost curve has significantly outpaced ATM in the enterprise, particularly since the ratification of the IEEE Gigabit Ethernet copper-based standard in June 1999.

For service providers with an existing TDM- or ATM-based infrastructure, ATM offers an attractive offering for multi-service traffic at OC-48 speeds.

ATM was originally heralded as the best solution for high bandwidth, multi-service requirements with carrier-grade voice and QoS guarantees, and it is generally agreed that ATM provides the optimum quality of service capabilities for mixed voice, data, and video traffic. The IP world is working diligently to catch up.

As in the LAN, Ethernet switches are rapidly emerging in service providers’ PoPs. For a newer greenfield player, such as a CLEC or alternate operator, an ATM-based network architecture may not provide the desired networking economics.

WAN-compatible 10 GE at OC-192 speeds – combined with advances in technology such as MPLS, IP QoS, and integrated network management – becomes a contender to ATM in the metropolitan and wide area network.

:: Data Center Connectivity

A number of large carriers and service providers are addressing the demand for remote content hosting, outsourcing of eBusiness applications, and the delivery of managed services through the deployment of data centers.

Today, these data centers include Gigabit Ethernet connectivity to servers, routers, Ethernet switches, or directly to optical networks.

As demand for these applications and services grow, service providers and carriers will significantly benefit from WAN-compatible 10 Gigabit Ethernet interfaces that address capacity requirements and ensure compatibility with OC-192c optical  network infrastructure.

Compability with OC-192c TDM and DWDM optical networks is particularly important for data centers where mirroring or data center backup requires not only high capacity content movement but also geographical separation across OC-192 optical networks.

:: Conclusion

10 Gigabit Ethernet in MAN Networks

As the boundaries of Local, metropolitan, and wide area networks continue to blur, network unification requires segments connecting to each other more easily, at lower cost, and with fewer network operational and management requiremetns.

In this environment, the preeminent solution – providing high performance, high efficiency, and low cost at all scales – is Ethernet. The development of WAN-compatible 10 Gigabit Ethernet represents the type of incremental innovation that is changing the very economics of networking.

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