It’s clearly evident from the evolution of technology that the “need for speed” seems to be deeply embedded in human nature. Reflecting back without going too far back in history, the horse and buggy was the main mode of transportation, unfortunately not fast enough. So we invented the locomotive, automobile, airplane, fax machine, e-mail, and mobile phones with text messaging among the hundreds of other inventions to fulfill our need to do things faster.
Being a networking guy, I might be biased, but I see networks as the new frontier for speed, especially now that we are a media/information driven society. It wasn’t long ago that a 10Mbps shared Ethernet LAN and 56kbps WAN links were considered fast (showing my age here). However, every time faster networking speeds were introduced, newer applications quickly consumed the capacity driving the need for even higher speeds.
Over the years we’ve seen Ethernet speeds increase in increments of 10x starting with 10Mbps to 100Mbps to 1GE and 10GE and now, we’re again at another speed inflection point -100Gigabit Ethernet! This week Cisco added to our 100GE router portfolio (CRS and ASR routers) with the announcement of a 100GE M2-Series module for the Cisco Nexus 7000 Series switches. Along with the 100GE module, we also announced a 40GE M2-Series module for the Nexus 7000 and a 40GE module for the Catalyst 6500.
The Nexus 7000 modules deliver feature rich, non-blocking Layer 2 and Layer 3 functionality. The 2-port 100 GE module enables up to 32 non-blocking 100 Gigabit ports in a single Nexus 7018 chassis, while the 6-port 40 GE module enables up to 96 non-blocking 40 Gigabit ports. These high speed modules allow up to 10 times faster connectivity and bandwidth over existing fiber infrastructure, resulting in more services and data delivery over the same network.
So, what are the new applications driving the need for 100G connectivity today? Organizations and Service providers are experiencing a data deluge brought on by the confluence of a number of growing trends including faster residential connectivity, video, cloud computing, virtualization/workload, VDI and the explosion of smart mobile devices with rich media applications. For the most part, 10GE is today’s work horse for network backbones in the campus and data center, however, 10GE is becoming a bottleneck at the network core of many organizations, especially between the aggregation and core layers in the data center.
Based on recent customer conversations, we see early adopters of the 100GE technology in multiple areas:
1. Enterprise Data Centers: Today’s data intensive trends such as, Big Data, video, cloud, VDI and faster virtualized servers are accelerating adoption of 10 GE at the server level. This in turn is placing a heavy load on the upstream links resulting in high oversubscription between the access/aggregation layers and even higher oversubscription between the aggregation/core layers. Both 40GE and 100GE will provide the additional bandwidth needed to help reduce the oversubscription and alleviate these growing bottlenecks.
2. Academia and Research – Research networks are transporting Petabytes of data across academic institutions for collaborative scientific research. To accommodate this data deluge, research institutions are deploying global high-speed 100GE networks with 100GE drop offs to research labs and universities around the world.
3. Content Providers – Leading social, search and gaming sites such as Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Tencent in China, to name a few, are experiencing exponential growth in traffic. To keep up with this growth and continue to provide fast response times, content providers are moving towards 100GE not only in their internal network backbones, but also for their links to service providers.
4. Service Providers/IXPs – The new trends and the data deluge brought on by “the internet of things” from the home, enterprise, mobile devices, content providers and cloud are placing enormous bandwidth demands at the core of service provider networks, driving them to deploy 100GE connectivity within their networks and as high bandwidth handoff to their customers and IXP internet peering .
Looking out over the next couple of years, I suspect 10GE will still be a dominant player for most campus and data center networks, however as 10GE moves closer to the network edge (access and server connectivity), I see 100GE and 40GE becoming the de-facto standard for backbone connectivity….that is until we get bored with 100GE and feel the need for more speed – Terabit Ethernet? Stay tuned.