Is Gigabit Ethernet over Copper Picking Up Speed? - Page 2

 By Lynn Haber
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For smaller organizations, 1000Base-T over copper will enable many firms to upgrade the network backbone without having to install fiber cable. "Its an easy backbone upgrade for these organizations," says Vickers.

Industry vendors also expect to see Gigabit Ethernet over copper implementations at the server farm where bandwidth requirements can easily outstrip Fast Ethernet, or 100Mbps Ethernet, implementations, creating network bottlenecks. While many companies may have wanted to increase bandwidth at the server farms for some time now, the high costs associated with migrating to fiber put Gigabit speeds out of reach. Even with the possibility of doubling or tripling the performance of the servers, network managers who know that they cant fill up a Gigabit Ethernet pipe cant justify the fiber prices while wasting 60%-70% of the bandwidth.

An Ethernet upgrade project, currently underway at the Cambridge, Mass.-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), exemplifies how Gigabit Ethernet over copper fits the bill. Using a switching solution from Enterasys Networks Inc. (formerly Cabletron Systems Inc.), MIT is currently in the process of rolling out Gigabit Ethernet over copper in the tele/datacom closets. The university has about 100 buildings across its campus serving more than 900 faculty and nearly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

"Our intention for this year is to deploy 100-200 units," says Tom Coppeto, network manager at MIT.

According to Coppeto, theres about one wiring closet per floor with each closet requiring between 1-20 Gigabit switches, depending upon the number of ports in use. The way the network is configured in the buildings is that on each floor, the downstream ports go to the offices, classrooms, laboratories or wireless access points. Upstream, the Gigabit Ethernet switches link to the backbone network of the building that runs at Gigabit speeds, as well.

On the backbone, MIT uses Cisco Catalyst 4000 10/100 and Gigabit switches, some of which run over fiber, others that run over copper. If the distance between the wiring closet and the backbone is greater than 100 meters the cable of choice is optical fiber. For distances of less than 100 meters than copper cable is used, says Coppeto.

All in all, about 1,000 Gigabit Ethernet switches will be required to serve all the network connections to the end users. The roll-out plan is to deploy several hundred units per year.

This article was originally published on Oct 11, 2001
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