Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Say Hello to Giga bps Internet Speed

If there is one thing that seems to baffle people about their connection to the Internet, it's the mysterious concept of connection speed.   Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) sold you a connection to the Internet at a certain speed.  Maybe you didn't really care what the speed was when you bought your Internet connection, or maybe you did ?

Connection speed is generally measured in bps which means bits per second.

About 10 years ago, the standard computer room was run at Ethernet speed of 10 Mega bps and the new kid on the block was called Fast Ethernet, running at 100 Mega bps. Now the Gigabit net is changing this rapidly.
Estimates are that over the next six years, 5 to 10 Gigabit networks will be making their appearances in data centers around the world, analysts note, driven by the need for ever more speed. Indeed, some estimates say that the Gigabit market will leap to $28 billion in sales.

It's interesting how the geometry of server technology will be changing as the speed race increases. Even small and medium businesses are being forced to make the jump now because those firms which do not are afraid they will be left behind. Indeed, if you were to look into the wiring closets and computer rooms of today's business, it is like you would see the installation of machines with Gigabit ports that interface directly with the Motherboard. The day of the 100 Mbps fast Ethernet port is just about gone, analysts note. Aside from being left behind, it is all being driven by economics.

The hottest growth area today is in rack-top switching where 10G Ethernet ports are becoming the standard. In the topology of the computer room, a network cable would be run from a 10G switch to the rack-to-switch. The rack-top switch, in turn, takes the jumper right to the 10G-Base-T connector on a server.

Even these speeds will seem slow by 2020 when experts predict that 40 Gigabit and 100 Gigabit networking will be the norm, driving by the ever-increasing speed needs of business.

Why would a business ever need speeds greater than 10G-Base-T? The answer is both complicated and simple. It all begins at the user desktop or at the user tablet or even at the user smartphone. With wide-area networking growth and the needs of WiFi users increasing almost exponentially - it takes a lot of bandwidth to move video streams and audio streams almost instantly from place to place - the infrastructure to support them must be put into place.

And, as users become accustomed to having this speed available at their fingertips, they expect the data stream to continue to their enterprise an suddenly the enterprise computing facility needs this kind of speed and as use grows both transactional speed and computational speeds grow.

It's a business model that seems to be being driven in reverse. Instead of the enterprise controlling the speeds, the end users are controlling the speeds and with wide-area-networking and "anywhere office" needs push the envelope, that envelope has to be filled.

One key to the revolution will be the drop in pricing. By the close of next year, it is estimated that the average 10G-Base-T port will cost about U$700 to $1,000 to implement. And, within seven or eight years, that price is expected to drop to about $200, even as server prices drop. It's all a function of the speed at which technology is adopted.

It was estimated that computing speeds in the last 20 years have doubled about 18 months and with it the need for infrastructure changes to meet the changes.

As an example, if you've been in the business for 30 years, you probably remember the early IBM-PC with their anemic clock speeds and anemic network speeds (they didn't seem so at the time). Within 24 months, the processors speeds had doubled and tripled as had the networking speeds. It then became almost axiomatic that speeds would double every 18 months both in computing and networking. And, it's continuing today so that even today's 100 Mbps gold standard is about to become the lead standard as the 10G-Base-T networks and servers by pass them.

It's like a row of dominoes falling. Within six years, as the pricing of 10G-Base-T ports drops to the $200 level, Gigabit-Base-T ports will drop to about $40 or so, while 100 Mbps ports will drop to $8. At the same time, 10G-Base-T port shipments will jump 400 percent, while 100 Mbps ports will drop like stone by the same 400 percent. It all averages out.

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