100 Gigabit WANs, MANs In Our Future?

Bobby Johnson, co-founder of Foundry Networks, told N+I attendees it could happen by 2006.

ATLANTA—By 2006, its possible that wide-area and metro-area networks could see 100 Gigabit per second Ethernet speeds, said Bobby Johnson, president, CEO and co-founder of switch-maker Foundry Networks Inc.

In an industry that continues to struggle, Ethernets evolution will move steadily forward, Johnson said in a keynote address here at the Network+Interop trade show.

"Ethernets evolved from a local-area to a global-area technology. The global evolution of Ethernet will dramatically increase the speeds and decrease the costs of all aspects of computing in the next five years," he said.

This coming winter, Gigabit Ethernet, also known as 1000baseT, will begin shipping for desktop uses, he said.

By 2005, 10 Gigabit versions will ship to desktops, and that will be a mutlibillion dollar segment by 2006 that will compete against Fibre Channel for enterprise storage, he predicted.

"Its a proven paradigm," just as todays Ethernet evolved exponentially, he said.

Beyond that, "I think there may be a step to 40 Gigabit" over the telecommunications industrys OC-768 backbones, Johnson said. But he stopped short of predicting 100 Gigabit versions. "There are no defined components [for that] yet," he said.

Attendees of Johnsons speech were cautiously enthusiastic about his predictions.

"His timeline looks pretty solid," said Robert Wine Jr., a consultant from Corbin, Ky. But "unless youve got 10,000, 20,000 PCs hooked up to your system, how are you going to use all that bandwidth?"