10 Gigabit Built for Speed

Networking gear vendors show support for high-speed, fiber-only ethernet technology at N+I.

Although standards have yet to be formally set, vendors are readying a host of 10 Gigabit Ethernet products that promise delivery of the speedier networking technology to the enterprise by years end.

Proponents say the fiber-only, full-duplex 10 Gigabit Ethernet will mean more than just faster data rates for business users. The technology promises to extend Ethernets functionality to MANs (metropolitan area networks) and WANs and give business users lower-priced access to scalable, reliable bandwidth.

A majority of the networking gear vendors on display here at NetWorld+ Interop last week said they have hardware in development to support the coming IEEE 802.3ae standard for 10 Gigabit Ethernet. The standard is due to be ratified in March of next year, according to officials of the 10 Gigabit Ethernet Alliance, but the prestandard products based on the latest draft of the spec are expected to be fully compliant.

Nortel Networks Corp. is getting ahead of the curve with an updated version of its Passport 8600 routing switch. The Passport, part of Nortels Optical Ethernet product line, will use working versions of the IEEE 802.3ae standard. It is aimed at service providers, carriers and enterprise users looking to bring reliable and scalable 10 Gigabit networking to MANs, officials of the Brampton, Ontario, company said.

Nortels Optical Ethernet technology is currently in service in 12 metropolitan networks and in trial in another 45 networks worldwide.

Guangdong Unicom, a regional operator of China Unicom Ltd., in Beijing, is using Nortels Optical Ethernet solutions in eight areas of Guangdong province and will be among the first to test the Passport 8600 10 Gigabit product when it becomes available next month.

Bell Canada International Inc. has deployed Nortels Optical Ethernet equipment in MANs covering Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. According to Roger Roney, team leader and project manager at the Canadian carrier, the system is being used successfully by a major financial institution, and several other large enterprises have expressed interest. "If someone is looking for a solution that is cost-effective and scalable with a lot of speed, this is it," said Roney, in Toronto. "In the past, [traffic] had to be converted to ATM. With high-speed Ethernet, there is less conversion, and that has allowed us to lower the price substantially."

Extreme Networks Inc. is also getting ahead of the coming 10 Gigabit Ethernet standards. By November, the Santa Clara, Calif., vendor plans to offer prestandard 10 Gigabit Ethernet modules for its Black Diamond switches with improvements not just to speed but also to provisioning and management capabilities, said Mike Banic, product line manager for Extreme.

For their part, officials at Basking Ridge, N.J., company Avaya Inc. said they were readying 10 Gigabit Ethernet multiservice switches as additions to Avayas Cajun product line.