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Affordable 10 Gigabit Ethernet for Small and Midsize Business

December 6, 2016 - 2 Comments

As the owner or IT manager of a growing business, you may be well aware of 10 Gigabit network, but never realize your business actually needs it and can afford it right now. This blog will show you some basic facts about 10 Gigabit Ethernet and how you can migrate your network to 10 Gigabit within your budget.

Why do I need 10G network?

Modern businesses have become increasingly digital, which means pretty much everything from sales and marketing to service and support, rely on a fast and reliable network. There has never been so much traffic and applications running on the networks and it keeps growing – at a high pace.  Technologies like 802.11ac wireless, server virtualization, IP convergence, Cloud and Internet of things greatly improve productivity, but also bring even more pressure to your network.

A network that works is no longer adequate, it has to support the growing of your business in the ever-changing digital world. With a 10G network core, you can avoid network congestion at busy times, improve the productivity of employees, shorten the response time to customers and bring new products to the market faster.

How much does it cost?

3 components are involved for an upgrade to 10G network. 10G core switches, access switches with 10G uplinks, and 10G network interface cards for servers and storage devices.

10 years ago, a single 10G switch port can cost you $4,000. But today, the cost has dropped to under $150 per port, which you can certainly afford. Cisco 550X and 350X series switches are specifically designed for Small and Midsize Business and provide a wide range of choices of 12, 16, 24 and 48 10G ports, starting from only $1,500 street price. You can even get it lower if you shop around.

For access switches with 10G uplinks, Cisco 500X series provide 24 or 48 gigabit ports with 4 10G uplinks, starting from around $1,000 street price.

A 10G network interface card (NIC) on servers or storage devices cost between $200 to $300 depending on the brand. You can get it lower if you order it as an option to your new server.

What do I need to know about 10G?

It’s simple. Especially with 10GBase-T supported on Cisco 550X and 350X series switches, you use the same familiar RJ45 network cable to connect the 10G switch with your servers, storages and other switches, and they go up to the same 100 meters as in the Gigabit network. Just make sure you pick up a Cat6A grade RJ45 network cable available in most IT shops. 10GBase-T is becoming more popular in network switches and servers because its lower cost and ease of use. So, if you haven’t got any 10G devices, you should get those with 10GBase-T ports.


Cisco 550X and 350X series switches also support 10G SFP+. You should use these ports if you have existing devices that come with 10G SFP+ port or you need a 10G connection to other switches that are more than 100 meters away. These look exactly the same as SFP ports on your Gigabit switches, but they’re now running at 10 Gigabit. For servers or storage devices with 10G SFP+ port, the most cost efficient way to connect is to use 10G direct attach cable. These are basically copper cables with SFP+ connector on both sides, and they come in pre-cut length of 1m, 3m and 5m.


For switches that are more than 100 meters away, you will need a pair of SFP+ modules and the matching fiber cable between them. Depending on the length required, you can use multi mode SFP+ and fiber to reach 400 meters and single mode SFP+ and fiber to reach 10 km.



How can I ensure a smooth migration?

You don’t need to upgrade your whole network in one go. Start from the core switches that you use to connect all your access switches together and connect your servers and storage devices. Think about how many ports you need and if redundancy is a concern for you. Having two core switches stacked together to provide redundancy and also extra performance is a good design for a solid network foundation.

Once you have your core switches upgraded to 10G, you can migrate your key access switches and servers to 10G and connect to your new core switches first. You will see immediate performance gain in the most critical parts of your network. The rest of the network can stay as they are for the moment, because 10GBase-T ports are backward compatible with Gigabit links, and 10G SFP+ cage can also work with 1G SFP modules.

You can upgrade the rest of your network to 10G whenever you’re ready or in multiple phases if you wish.


I hope by now you have a good understanding of what’s between you and a 10 Gigabit high performance network. The technology is not complicated, and with Cisco 550X and 350X series switches, it’s no longer out of reach for Small and Midsize Businesses. What’s more is that the technology enables you to migrate the network to 10G in multiple steps, so you can spend your money wisely at places it’s most needed. For more information on Cisco 100-500 series switches, please visit or check with your local Cisco resellers.

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  1. Thank u , good informative blog.

    • Thanks, Muhammad. We hope this can be an easy reference when Small and Midsize Businesses consider the upgrade to 10G switching.