Networking

Showtime for LAN switching

Rabih Dabboussi

Director, Systems Engineering

Cisco, UAE

What is in store for the Ethernet switching market in 2010?

Ethernet switches are essential elements of all networks, providing high-speed connectivity, applications, and communications systems. In 2010 and beyond, networks will not only need to efficiently and securely transmit bandwidth-intensive data, voice, video, and wireless applications, they will also need to provide for evolving traffic patterns, new services, and optimized application performance. To meet current and future network needs, all LAN switch designs will need to incorporate attributes such as application intelligence, virtualisation, operational manageability, integrated security, etc.

Do you think data centre initiatives will drive the market?

As the data centre evolves, its architecture is also changing dramatically. The next generation Data Centre is transforming from business-centreed physical location into highly integrated and virtualized environment allowing our customers to scale their resources, their information and most importantly their business. The explosion of video; real-time, interactive applications; and communications and collaboration technologies has created more network-centric applications, requiring a new data centre platform. Cisco’s Data Centre 3.0 vision is the evolution of the data centre to a more consolidated, virtualized and automated environment that lays the foundation for cloud computing.

What are users deploying 10G for? Do you think the market will move to 40G and 100G next year?

Most 10G, 40G and 100G deployments are for Trunk and inter-switch connectivity. In the ever-evolving world of internet communication, we are seeing bandwidth intensive, interactive applications such as video on demand and video conferencing requiring 40G and 100G core links for most service providers. Large Enterprises will also have to take a close look at their WAN interconnect model and inter-switch trunks especially between critical data-centre elements. As enterprises adopt new technologies to enhance customer focus and experience, adopt new collaboration techniques and follow a technological advancement practice improving employee productivity, these enterprises will have to establish an interconnect network based on 40G or 100G connections.

From an end-user point of view, we don’t believe that such high-speed connectivity will be required in the near future.

Tarek Abbas

Senior Systems Engineering Manager – Enterprise

Juniper Networks

What is driving the change in date centre networks?

The period of legacy data centre architectures are coming to an end. Technology needs to continually evolve to meet the demands of an ever-advancing technological world, it is now time for networks to take a giant step forward into cloud computing. By stepping out of the box and rethinking the traditional legacy approaches and preparing for the arrival of cloud computing, it is possible for IT organizations to build data centre networks that offer greater economies of scale, improved application service levels, simpler management and lower costs. IT organizations can take decisive steps today that drive businesses closer to the promise of tomorrow.

I think another major trend for the data centre is green networking. The economic benefit of sustainability or green choices in running your business is vital for companies in the current economic crisis. Adopting sustainable practices in IT can reduce costs associated with space, power and cooling datacentres and network service centres.

What use cases are you seeing for 10G? Is the move to 40G and 100G imminent?

Enterprises are deploying 10G in order to connect their data centres and provide sensitive, low-latency 10 Gbps Ethernet networks. For example, the New York Stock Exchange plans to deploy hundreds of Juniper’s switches where the network will connect their two data centres providing one of the fastest trading networks in the world, with latency in the 50 microsec to 150 microsec range.

Worldwide revenues for 40 Gbit/s equipment are expected to grow at a combined annual growth rate of 35%, reaching a market size of $1.2 billion by 2013 according to research firm Dell’Oro. Although we are currently in the midst of an economic crisis, we continue to see increased implementation and interest in the 40G and 100G markets. The 40G market has shown continued growth and strength with a 1Q09 increase of 8% sequentially and 400% year-over-year.

Regional IT managers who are starting with – or pushing the limits of 10 Gigabit Ethernet in their LANs can expect Juniper to being shipping 40 gigabit and 100 gigabit Ethernet products by year end; terabit speeds are anticipated by 2015.

Mahmoud El Ali,

GM

3Com Middle East and North Africa

What is the impact of 10G on Ethernet switching?

The adoption of 10Gb Ethernet switching will gain force in 2010, primarily driven by demand from data centres. There is a rich set of standards in place and, as price per port continues to drop, 10GbE will become the connection of choice in the data centre in 2010.

What is 10G primary being used for?

10Gb Ethernet is being used both as a server to network connection (almost all new servers will have one or more 10Gb connections pre-installed) and as a trunked inter-switch connection. However, the cumulative effect of the increasing number of applications and the ever greater number of users means that demand for network bandwidth is doubling approximately every 18 months. As a result, some data centres are preparing for 40Gb Ethernet (for server connection) and 100Gb Ethernet (for network switch interconnection). We have data centre customers in China who are already using the 40/100GbE capabilities of the H3C S12500 data centre switch, and customers in the Middle East are looking at this technology now to support the core foundation for tomorrow’s data centres.

Do you see any significant changes in data centre networking?

In the future, as data centres become more complex, a key issue will be the ability to manage servers, networks and clients in an integrated fashion, and virtualisation tools for achieving this are emerging now. In the longer term, we will see more examples of “one-to-many” virtualisation, where discrete network hardware platforms logically separate themselves into multiple virtual devices – not dissimilar in concept to the virtual server containers we see today in computing platforms. Eventually, the network as a whole will deliver services as a single “cloud”, pooling unutilised network resources and capacity dynamically from anywhere in the network to deliver the required service at the point of need.

Virtualisation is happening right now in the network: stackable devices, management clustering and VLANs are long-established techniques for better network management. We also expect FCoE (Fibre Channel over Ethernet) to become mainstream once the underlying IEEE 802.3 standards for data centre bridging mature. This will enable a new wave of consolidation and convergence between the LAN and SAN (storage area network) to drive both efficiency gains and cost savings. 3Com’s current data centre switches such as the H3C S12500 are ready to take advantage of FCoE once the standards mature to a stable point.

Alaa Al Shimy,

GM, HP ProCurve Middle East

What will steer Ethernet switching market in 2010?

We definitely expect the data centre initiatives to drive the Ethernet switching market in addition to the network refresh that we see in the enterprise market. People have been delaying the investments through the last year to refresh and we should see significant spend in the arena as well.

Has 10GbE taken off in data centres?

The data centre is moving from older 1Gb interfaces on their servers to 10Gb, and with the virtualisation of the servers there is a larger requirement for 10Gb ports. Uplinks into the datacentre are being moved to 10Gb.

Data centres are looking towards a more unified management model for their infrastructure where networking is just another part and not a separate part of the whole management. This management is particularly important when it comes to the times to provision new services.

What are users deploying 10G for?

Currently we see 10Gb being deployed as backbone uplinks and also in the datacentre for connecting 10Gb servers. With virtualisation of servers more network bandwidth is required hence the need for 10Gb.

Do you think the market will move to 40G and 100G next year?

I do not think that at this stage 40G or 100G is yet mature enough to be taken on during the year 2010.

Aziz Ala’ali,

Regional Director, Middle East & Africa,

Extreme Networks

What kind of new trends do you see in the data centre networking?

We see that there is a large interest in solutions that reduce cost even further: servers/switches that use less power, use of 10 GbE versus GbE, increased performance at a lower cost, etc.

What are users deploying 10G for?

T?he growing use of 10 Gigabit Ethernet in data centres is primarily to accommodate increasing computational and storage density in data centres brought on by application growth, increasing use of blade servers and large-scale virtualisation. Users are deploying 10G Ethernet to aggregate hundreds of Gigabit Ethernet server connections and even linking 10G Ethernet server NICs into the data centre switching fabric.

Khalid Khalil,

Regional Sales Manager – CEMA

Brocade

Are data centres driving LAN switching decisions and purchases?

Information technologies, including Ethernet switching are always driven by data centre initiatives in enterprises and service providers. As it has been the case lately, more powerful servers with virtualisation, security and cloud computing initiatives will drive and guide the Ethernet market in 2010. The combined effect of virtualisation, security and cloud initiatives places heavy pressure on storage and networking I/O interconnects and will drive migration to higher Ethernet speeds and converged storage and networking technologies such as Fibre Channel Over Ethernet (FCoE).

Do you see a trend towards virtualisation and convergence in data centres?

Data centre trends in 2010 will mostly be a continuation of what started in the past few years as none of the recent trends matured or fulfilled its promise to the point where it widely adopted. Virtualisation will certainly be at the top of data centre trends as enterprises continue to seek more efficient and agile environments. Convergence of storage and networking traffic using Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE) and FCoE will lead the move to deploy 10GbE. Service providers will continue with the slow deployment of 40GbE backbone links. In essence, we will see a continuation of the recent trends towards virtualisation, cloud computing and convergence of storage and networking leading to higher, but modest increase in 10GbE adoption

What is necessitating the need for 10G? How soon do you think uses will upgrade to 40G and 100G ?

As noted above, enterprise users are slowly moving to 10GbE deployment as they now have good business drivers to justify the costs associated with infrastructure upgrades. Convergence using CEE/FCoE technologies leads to simplified I/O environments that deliver lower acquisition costs (CapEx) and lower cost of operations (OpEx). The benefits of server virtualisation are also apparent in terms of higher server utilization and more agile data centres. Despite the higher I/O demand placed on I/O interconnects, the migration to 10GbE will continue its slow pace next year. As for 40GbE and beyond, adoption will start with service providers and backbone infrastructure in the near term before enterprises start to include the higher links in their data centre plans. We will see 100GbE in 2010 and expect that early adopters will take advantage of the technology.

Charles Ferland,

Vice President of EMEA

BLADE Network Technologies

What will drive Ethernet switching market in 2010? Do you think data centre initiatives will drive the market?

In 2009, enterprise datacentres across all industries were asked to deliver more, yet without increases in personnel or other resources. BLADE Network Technologies believes that this trend will continue and increase in 2010. In addition, datacentres will be facing stricter energy conservation regulations, as well as looking toward energy savings as an important cost-savings factor that can lower overall datacentre total cost of ownership (TCO). In order to provide more with less, including less power, datacentres are looking to increase performance, while decreasing cost, power consumption, space and complexity. To address these issues and demands, there are three major technology trends that we expect to see more of in 2010 including: virtualisation, convergence on 10 gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) and green IT.

What kind of new trends do you see in the data centre networking?

While these are not new trends, we will see an increased demand and more adoption for network virtualisation, cloud computing networking, IP storage, 10 Gigabit Ethernet, green networking, open and best-of-breed vs. vendor lock-in networking solutions, and strong price/performance. In addition, making networks easier to manage and scale will continue to be at the top of datacentre administrators’ lists.

What are users deploying 10G for? Do you think the market will move to 40G and 100G next year?

Customers already using Gigabit, or several 1 Gigabit links, are finding it more appealing to upgrade to 10GbE. Because a 10GE switch can be purchased for under $500 per port from industry leaders such as BLADE Network Technologies, customers are better off deploying 10GbE rather than deploying 4- 1 Gigabit links. We are seeing an increasing number of 10GbE deployments due to server and storage virtualisation, high-performance computing, cloud computing, Web 2.0, financial services, broadcast and other enterprise applications that require a high-performing and available network. As the market adoption of 10GbE starting gaining traction last year, it is safe to assume that 40GbE and 100GbE are coming next. 2010 is likely to be the year when we will see increasing deployment of these high-speed technologies as they become commercially available at a price which makes sense to users.

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