100G Ethernet means business

The telecom and datacom worlds have converged around 10-Gigabits per second connectivity speed, and both have noticed the benefits – telecom-quality networks with datacom parts that combine volume with performance. These two worlds are unlikely to come apart, and the next paradigm – 100G Ethernet – is set to become the de facto method for the enterprise connectivity in coming years.

The first commercial deployment of long-haul 100G Ethernet is already a reality. Verizon is deploying it over a link between Paris and Frankfurt, providing connectivity to enterprises in these important business areas and helping to establish 100G Ethernet as tomorrow’s wide-scale form of enterprise connectivity.

100G Ethernet speeds up interconnections between servers, switches and routers for shorter distances, expedites enterprise computing applications at multiple sites, and increases memory and multi-core processing speeds in data centre environments. Unsurprisingly, data centre interconnections are the main application driving this market as additional capacity is needed to meet massive bandwidth requirements between sites.

For companies in high-bandwidth areas such as cloud computing, data storage and content delivery – Facebook, Google and MySpace being the most obvious examples – the potential of 100G Ethernet is evident. With the rapid growth of data consumption, there is a huge demand for high-capacity, scalable and cost-efficient networks that enable new business models in areas associated with rich content and video. However, this game-changing technology is also going to prove crucial in more traditional sectors, in particular finance, healthcare and research.

Ethernet is already of indispensable value to the financial industry. Information is the most valuable asset of financial institutions, leading to huge investment in data centre disaster recovery applications to cope with ambitious replication and recovery time objectives. The advent of 100G Ethernet will enable CIOs in the financial sector to address the bandwidth bottleneck they are facing today and scale their networks to meet growing bandwidth needs.

A prime example of a sector where high-capacity networks can have a significant impact is research – from medicine to applied physics. The US-based R&E network Internet2 has been vocal about the need for 100GbE links between research institutions and its commitment to the technology.

Sophisticated research routinely involves petabytes of data being transferred between different facilities for analysis. 100G Ethernet technology will provide the research and education community with the means to continue achieving scientific breakthroughs by connecting sites and facilitating innovative experiments in life-changing fields.

High-capacity networks will also change our medical system by enabling remote monitoring of patients as most emerging eHealth applications require tremendous amounts of bandwidth if they are to be shared across a healthcare network.

Sharing medical information and monitoring patients remotely will drive significant traffic, putting huge strain on the underlying network and creating the need for more capacity. But increasing capacity is not enough.

For a surgeon performing a procedure remotely using a high-definition video link, any system failure – even for only a few seconds – can mean the difference between life and death. We will only be able to rely in clinics, hospitals and research institutions to effectively work together with the support of a highly-reliable and resilient infrastructure.

Virtualisation, video and massive amounts of data are all driving enterprises and service providers toward 100GE. Nathan Brookwood of Insight 64, expects operators of massive computing clouds and high-performance computing environments to be the early adopters of this technology.

According to him, Facebook admitted over a year ago that the company already needed 100GE. By enabling reliable, flexible and high-capacity networks, this emerging technology will open the doors to innovation, making businesses processes more efficient and ultimately improving our quality of life.

Mervyn Kelly is EMEA marketing director at Ciena. With a background in microelectronic engineering, Mervyn covers the company’s transport, switching and carrier Ethernet technologies. He has over 20 years of telecoms experience and has held senior management positions in the industry covering carrier Ethernet, optical, fibre-to-the-home and IP routing.