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Friday, 10 June 2016 15:46

10GbE not just for core networks, says Netgear


A confluence of trends is widening the use of 10GbE networks, according to networking equipment vendor Netgear.

The impact of wireless can't be underestimated, Netgear global director of product marketing Tris Simmons told iTWire, and is causing a knock-on effect to the rest of the network.

The concepts of mobile working and SaaS are both well established, leading to growing bandwidth demands which are amplified by the growing number of devices per person.

Fortunately, this has coincided with the arrival of affordable and easily deployed 10GbE over copper networking products, such as Netgear's range of 10GbE smart managed switches.

Netgear was the first vendor to release 10GbE switches priced below US$1000, and the company has shipped more units than either Cisco or HPE, he said.

The family has recently been refreshed. The new models range from eight to 48 ports and are about 10% cheaper than their predecessors. "They are flying off the shelf," Simmons said.

Smart managed switches are simple enough for smaller businesses, he added.

And the recently introduced M4300 series switches were the first stackable 10GbE switches using the spine-and-leaf architecture – something reserved for very high-end products from other vendors, even though "SMBs need it too," he said.

This allows a network with no single point of failure, because if one of the spine switches fail, traffic automatically moves to the remaining spine switch(es). Exactly how quickly that occurs depends on the switches selected, so organisations need to pick models that suit their needs. For example, a network carrying surveillance video would normally need quick recovery.

A March survey of businesses with less than 500 employees in the US, UK and Germany revealed considerable interest in moving to 10GbE. A total of 33% already had some 10GbE in their networks (and a third of those already have at least 30% 10GbE ports), 61% expected to adopt the technology by the end of 2017, and every respondent expected to eventually install 10GbE.

"This is huge," Simmons told iTWire.

Four in 10 respondents said they were moving to 10GbE to avoid bottlenecks, and one in three said they were installing the technology in new or expanded premises.

Reinforcing the idea that 10GbE is no longer for the network backbone, 42% said they expect to use it to support workgroups with demanding workloads such as CAD/CAM or medical imaging.

"You can't buy a 10GbE laptop yet" but adaptors will soon be on the market, he said.

The survey results align with the local situation, ANZ managing director Brad Little said. People want to futureproof their networks, and 10GbE is affordable even if the full capacity is not immediately required.

These technologies are increasingly important to smaller businesses, he added, as so many mission-critical functions such as EFTPOS, VoIP, video surveillance systems rely on the network.

Simmons also noted that Netgear's M4200 is the world's first eight-port multi-gigabit aggregation layer switch. This supports 1, 2.5 and 5Gb traffic over Cat5 cable, making it especially relevant to organisations installing 802.11ac access points.

"It's not going to happen to everyone," he said, but gigabit switches can become bottlenecks in areas with a high density of active wireless devices and this is likely to become an issue during 2016 and 2017.

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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