Though the economy is still lagging, there is no slowdown in the demands being placed on networks. We predicted last year at this time that 100G networks were on their way when the Department of Energy awarded $62 million to build one. Since then, networking vendors like Cisco and Juniper Networks have been racing to introduce 100-Gigabit Ethernet with Juniper being the first to draw blood by creating a 100 Gigabit Ethernet router interface card this past June.
According to a recent NetworkWorld article, Brocade Communications is introducing a 100-Gigabit Ethernet module next month for the top-end Ethernet, IEEE 802.3ba standard. The standard defines specifications for both 40Gbps and 100Gbps connectivity.
The number of issues surrounding the development and deployment of a 100G Ethernet network will depend on how deep into the network the 100G needs to go. Even with these recent innovations there are still challenges to consider including:
- Network analysis and monitoring – there is still no single network analyzer that can capture at 100Gbps. One way to achieve this is with a series of load balancing taps that break the traffic down into smaller 10G lines, which then feed into separate analyzers working in parallel. No one has invented it yet
- Infrastructure/cabling – twisted pair cable only goes up to 20G right now and to go higher it would mean re-cabling with fiber
- Cost - if 100G comes into play and everything has to be replaced in between the core router and PC’s, it’s going to cost money. Even the network card in the PC has to be upgraded to 100G
As we continue down the 100G path, the next generation of networking tools will surely follow. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves – the proliferation of 100G networks is still a pipe dream today.