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Why the time is right for 10GbE

Traditionally considered the preserve of the enterprise space, 10GBase-T, also known as 10 Gigabit copper, was deemed too expensive, power intensive and bulky for small to medium-sized businesses with high-speed networking requirements.

As a result, 10GbE connectivity involved costly fibre-based technology as the predominant way to support high-speed access to the backbone of the network, as well as virtualised server, storage and data centre environments.

However, 2013 marked a turning point when wide-scale deployment of 10GBase-T started to take off. IHS Infonetics recently revealed that 10GbE use will nearly double this year, with a substantial 38 per cent penetration that will rise to 72 per cent penetration by 2019. No longer just the domain of large enterprises, 10GbE is reaching into the SMB space, allowing companies to deliver more bandwidth and fully realise even the most demanding business services such as virtualisation.

The growth of BYOD

We live in an age where connectivity matters. The ‘always on’ generation is now firmly established within the office environment and carry multiple devices. Combining this with the increasing number of wireless capable devices has led to a massive rise in WiFi based traffic.

The knock-on effects for some have had a detrimental impact on the stability of wireless networks. Aside from the challenge of managing and securing the multitude of new devices in the workplace, businesses have found themselves faced with bottlenecks, buffering and speed issues in their network – all of which can negatively affect their ability to function optimally. With more devices and users to contend with, the risk of downtime only intensifies as networks struggle to cope with the added congestion.

As more devices connect to the network and the amount of data increases, firewalls and application security will need to be re-evaluated to ensure safe and secure access to the Internet. After all, only so much traffic can come and go through the firewall door at a time and this can present further bottleneck issues. Add to this the convergence of voice, video, and data on mobile devices and network performance can start to degrade. As a result, network managers are being forced to look for ways to manage traffic in a more efficient and affordable way.

Whilst some IT budgets are actually increasing; this money has to go further. The ability to minimise IT management and control the growth of IT requires solutions that are reliable, affordable and above all, easy to use.

Bringing enterprise-class solutions to the masses

Luckily, as demand on the network increases, the next wave of 10GbE has arrived. Solutions are now available that enable all businesses, small or large, to provide the potential of enterprise-class solutions within their switching infrastructure. The increasing adoption of 10GbE copper interfaces by server and storage vendors is opening up the opportunity for 10GbE connectivity deployment for companies of all sizes.

10GbE switches can now offer a high port density of up to 28 ports, making them a flexible solution that can sit anywhere, whether they are deployed at the core of a smaller network or as the aggregation layer of a larger network. Their increasing use is being buoyed by attractive pricing that can lead to them being well under £100 per port, bringing the cost clearly within the realm of SMB customers.

No more power consumption disadvantages

It is not just the price of 10GbE technology that has changed, but the technology too. Historically 10GbE copper was perceived as power intensive, but today’s PHY chipset technology provides anything from around 5 to 8 watts per 10GBase-T port. In aggregate, this can still be less than that experienced with some server set-ups. Many new switches additionally feature a sleep mode so that the port will automatically enter a lower power mode if there is no link, and a short cable mode which will reduce the output power if the cable length is less than 30 metres.

The benefits of 10GbE copper

There are a host of benefits of using 10GbE copper, but one that any growing organisation can relate to is the need to realise high-speed network performance growth, whilst leveraging existing infrastructure copper cabling investments.Organisations with an existing network infrastructure running Cat6, Cat6A or 7 cabling, will be able to benefit from the copper wiring of a higher grade than that of Cat5e.

10GbE also enables organisations to extend support for converged environments. Network performance bottleneck risks are growing. Bandwidth demand is rising to support intensive new applications, along with the proliferation of data replication and the widespread adoption of mobility, server and storage virtualisation. All these combine to drive the need for 10 Gigabit solutions.

Why now is the time to embrace 10GbE connectivity

The number of devices in the enterprise will continue to increase, along with the amount of data transmitted over the network. As a result, wired and wireless will end up competing for network bandwidth, while additional video traffic stemming from both mobile and connected computer devices will create blockages occurring in parts of the network not previously seen with Gigabit connectivity.

With this in mind, the need for 10GbE connectivity has never been clearer. Those organisations that fail to put in place the technology and connectivity needed to support tomorrow’s connected workforce will find themselves losing out to those that do.

Tris Simmons, Senior Product Marketing Manager EMEA, NETGEAR (opens in new tab)

Photo credit: Korn / Shutterstock