100 Gig Ethernet. Where It's At. Where It's Going

100 Gigabit Ethernet is now in the market, but where is it fitting in and is there a difference between different vendor implementations?

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Apr 29, 2011
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The IEEE 802.3ba standard for 100 Gigabit Ethernet (100 GbE) was approved in June of 2010 and has been gaining adoption ever since. Multiple vendors including Juniper, Cisco, Brocade and Alcatel-Lucent have all announced 100 GbE solutions.

Major carriers -- including Verizon and AT&T -- are adopting 100 GbE as vendors ramp up their product offerings.

"An exact number is not immediately available, but Juniper has sold several dozen 100 GbE blades for the T1600, including some to Verizon, who recently announced plan for 100 GbE commercial service on select links in the U.S. and in Europe," Luc Ceuppens, VP of product marketing for Juniper Networks told InternetNews.com.

As to why carriers are choosing to deploy 100 GbE, it's often a question of the management cost of link aggregation complexity. Many carriers today have link aggregation strategies for the 10 Gigabit Ethernet links.

"Most customers will need to make a decision of continuing to go down the path of 10 gig link aggregation to address bandwidth needs, versus jumping over to 100 gig," Ken Cheng, vice president, Service Provider Products at Brocade told InternetNews.com. "There are pros and cons to both approaches."

Cheng noted that spectrum exhaustion is one reason why 100 GbE has an advantage. So instead of putting a 10 gig stream of traffic onto a fiber, a provider can put 10 times that amount on the same fiber, which makes it more cost effective.

"So even though customers tend to think of 100 GbE as being expensive, when you take into consideration the access to fiber, 100 GbE is quite reasonable and economical," Cheng said.

Cheng added that service providers are seeing longer network flows that live longer. He noted that networks used to be dominated by small packets, but with video and large file transfers there are larger flows.

"This is the type of traffic that is not easily served by a network based on 10x10 gig connectivity," Cheng said. "With larger flows, it's harder to fit into a LAG (Link Aggregation Group)."

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