Ethernet Wins

Carl Weinschenk
Slide Show

Six Reasons Why CES Should Scare the Hell out of Network Administrators

Vertical Systems Group’s research on the growth of fiber penetration in commercial buildings, released today, shows significant growth during the past decade. In 2004, the firm found that 10.9 percent of buildings used fiber for internal communications. The latest figure, 42.5 percent, is almost a 400 percent increase.

The VSG release says that the study looked at buildings with 20 or more employees that either are owned by one company or have multiple tenants. More than 2 million building are covered. VSG notes that Carrier Ethernet (CE) is a main service being supported by all that fiber, though a precise breakdown of the drivers is not included.

Infonetics Research also released a report today. It points to Ethernet switch sales of $21.7 billion worldwide during 2014 and $5.9 billion during the fourth quarter. That is a 5 percent increase over 2013 and represents the fifth consecutive year of record highs.

The Infonetics and VSG results complement each other and show that Ethernet has become the networking approach of choice.


CE is the up-and-coming star of the Ethernet stable. Simon Williams at ITProPortal discusses the inherent advantage that CE offers in wide-area network (WAN) utilizations. In most offices and buildings, communications from user desktops to email servers and other shared resources, between departments and, in multitenant buildings, from different companies to and from the entry points to the building all are based on Ethernet.

At these ingress and egress points, Williams says, transformations must occur:

The Ethernet wiring could be fed into a specialised interface that will convert the packet structure to Frame Relay, ATM, or even legacy X.25. SONET/SDH could be another, more contemporary choice for large corporations. All of these have different frame structures to Ethernet, requiring the packets to be transformed at one end of the connection, and then transformed back to Ethernet when they reach their destination.

In such environments, Ethernet frames must be adjusted for the form of connectivity serving the building. In a CE environment, in which Ethernet is used in the outside network, the complexity is reduced. Though Williams says that interfaces still are needed, they will have the same DNA as the data being received. Transitioning from an Ethernet local-area network (LAN) to an Ethernet-based WAN is simpler. Simpler translates to more efficient and reliable. This further translates into less expensive.

The future looks bright for Ethernet in general and CE in particular. An informative history of Ethernet posted by James Morris at BetaNews tracks the roots and current status of the technology. The keys are a methodical standards-setting process that has added both speed and increased connectivity options, and efficiency. More is yet to come:

But this is just the beginning. Faster Ethernet bandwidth is constantly on the horizon, with 100Gbit Ethernet standardized in 2010 and 2011, whilst 400Gbit and 1Tbit Ethernet are under consideration. Future Carrier Ethernet standards will aim to further simplify automated service delivery, enabling even greater possibilities to provide Ethernet connectivity as a commodity.

The bottom line is clear: The good news that VSG and Infonetics delivered this week to Ethernet is likely to continue.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.



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