“Our network is incredibly fast and we have way more bandwidth than we can ever use,” said no one ever.
Fact is, most organizations are finding that they don’t have enough network capacity to support growing numbers of devices and skyrocketing amounts of data. Ever-increasing demand for network bandwidth has become a critical issue.
That’s why more and more organizations are upgrading their data center network to 100 Gigabit Ethernet (100GbE). According to a recent Data Center Network Equipment market tracker from IHS Markit, worldwide shipments of 100GbE switch ports grew a whopping 369 percent year over year in the third quarter of 2017. To put that in perspective, the overall data center Ethernet switch market saw just 12 percent year-over-year growth.
It wasn’t that long ago that most data centers had 1GbE backbones. Over the past few years, many organizations have upgraded to 10GbE in the data center, with 1GbE links to PCs and other devices. However, 10GbE has rapidly become inadequate given the explosive growth in bandwidth consumption.
It’s possible to increase the throughput of existing network infrastructure using a technique called “link aggregation.” Multiple 10GbE or 1GbE ports in a network switch are combined into one logical connection. There are a number of drawbacks to this approach, however.
First, it ties up multiple network ports and increases the complexity of the switching infrastructure. There are also limitations as to the number of ports that can be aggregated and how they are configured. Furthermore, it’s less expensive to upgrade to a higher-bandwidth switch than to aggregate multiple 10GbE links. The question is — what should be the next incremental step?
Several years ago, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) ratified the 40GbE and 100GbE standards. Like 10GbE, 40GbE used eight wires or fibers (four “lanes”), making the upgrade path fairly straightforward. However, service providers and hyperscale data center operators found that upgrading from 10GbE to 40GbE wasn’t cost-effective.
These organizations opted to upgrade from 10GbE to 25GbE, which requires two wires or fibers (one lane). As a result, cabling costs are lower with 25GbE and a single switch can support more ports. Moving from 10GbE to 25GbE requires adjustments in the amount of bandwidth per lane, but from there getting to 50GbE and 100GbE is straightforward.
Of course, there’s no indication that organizations will stop at 100GbE. Crehan Research predicts that switches based on the 400GbE standard, which was ratified Dec. 6, 2017, will see even faster uptake than 100GbE and account for the majority of data center Ethernet switch bandwidth by 2022.
All of this may seem academic to nontechnical business leaders. However, there are quantifiable business benefits to be gained from upgrading your network infrastructure:
- Productivity will be enhanced when applications are more responsive and employees have access to faster connections.
- Your network will be more reliable and easier to manage.
- Your IT infrastructure will have the capacity to support innovative services and new product features and functionality.
SageNet has extensive experience in the design and implementation of high-performance networks. Let us assess your existing infrastructure and determine if a network refresh can help take your organization to the next level.