10-Gigabit Ethernet Poised To Take Data Centers By Storm

Enterprises are cutting costs through data center consolidation, financial and e-commerce firms are seeking a competitive edge and fat applications like video are gaining in popularity, all of which are driving solution providers' sales of 10-Gigabit Ethernet technology.

Vendors are jumping on the opportunity, with both Cisco Systems and Hewlett-Packard beefing up their high-speed networking portfolios with new 10-Gigabit Ethernet products this week.

Cisco on Monday is expanding its data center portfolio with a new high-speed switching module and an updated design guide that will help its channel partners implement it.

The new 8-port, 10-Gigabit Ethernet module for Cisco's Catalyst 6500 series switches aims to capitalize on the growing need for high-speed networking connections in the data center, said John Growdon, director of core and data center networking for worldwide channels at Cisco, San Jose, Calif.

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Two major trends are driving the increased adoption of 10-Gigabit Ethernet in the data center: consolidation and the increasing use of data-intensive applications such as video, he said.

"Instead of having dispersed data centers all over the world, many companies are starting to pull them together and consolidate their compute capabilities in a few locations," Growdon said.

Solution provider Berbee Information Networks is using 10-Gigabit Ethernet switches from Cisco to meet the high-speed networking needs of its customers, said Dan Flood, account manager at Berbee, Madison, Wis., which last week announced plans to be acquired by CDW in October.

E-commerce sites and financial outfits such as trading firms are clamoring for low-latency networking solutions built on 10-Gigabit Ethernet technology, he said.

For example, Berbee earlier this year implemented Cisco Catalyst 6500 switches with 10-Gigabit Ethernet capabilities for Orbitz after the online travel company determined that its existing core built on Foundry Networks gear was experiencing too much downtime, Flood said.

"If you're looking at any type of e-commerce site, the user is looking at how quickly they can click to the next screen," Flood said. After implementing Cisco switches, Orbitz saw increased performance, a reduction in latency and a decrease in network downtime, he said.

The opportunity for channel partners like Berbee is large, Growdon said, pointing to analysts' estimates that the 10-Gigabit Ethernet market will exceed $1.3 billion in 2006, up 78 percent over last year. "Ten-Gigabit Ethernet is rapidly expanding from the core into the data center environment, and many of our partners are already working in the data center," he said.

To help Cisco solution providers tackle that opportunity, the vendor is offering version 2.1 of its Data Center Infrastructure Design Guide, a 150-page reference document for channel partners. The guide, available online for download, lays out Cisco-tested designs to help partners more easily build Cisco data center solutions. The update incorporates more focus on 10-Gigabit Ethernet technology, including the new module, Growdon said.

Cisco already has a 4-port, 10-Gigabit Ethernet module for the 6500 line, which has been shipping since March 2003. The new module offers higher density and better performance at a price of 30 percent less per port, he said.

The new module is priced at $37,500. Required optics are available separately starting at $1,995.

Separately, Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP planned to unveil Monday the launch of multifunction 10-Gigabit Ethernet network adapters for its ProLiant server line.

The new HP NC510C and NC510F Network Adapters integrate technology from NetXen, a privately-held startup in Santa Clara, Calif., that makes 10-Gigabit Ethernet networking chips.

The new adapters, built on NetXen's Intelligent NIC network controllers, support CS4 copper and SR fiber connections as well as a variety of protocols, including RDMA, TCP/IP and accelerated iSCSI.

"With 10-Gigabit Ethernet-enabled HP ProLiant servers, enterprises can increase performance while simplifying their IT operations," said Paul Perez, vice president of storage, networking and infrastructure and industry-standard servers at HP, in a statement. "We chose to use the NetXen Intelligent NIC controller ... because this technology provides a powerful and flexible I/O architecture." The adapter are expected to increase server scalability while optimizing server architecture for virtual deployments, he added.