10 GbE Getting Faster, Cheaper

Arthur Cole

It doesn't matter if your goal is IP storage, converged networking or cloud infrastructure, all trends hitting the data center these days are based on one common thread: upgrading LAN throughput.

And while there are a number of ways to do that, industry consensus is that nothing short of 10 GbE will get the job done.

Naturally, this puts IP based storage in the driver's seat going forward, particularly as many enterprises find themselves in need of a fast SAN deployment in order to capitalize on virtualization and consolidation in the server farm.

So it's no surprise to see 10 GbE moving ahead on two fronts: copper-based switches and adapters and increased I/O for low-cost solutions like iSCSI SANS.

For those interested in maintaining their 10 GBASE-T infrastructure, the latest systems are available for less than $1,000 per port, according to research compiled by Force10 Networks and Neterion. And adoption is being made easier with new generations of LAN-on-motherboard solutions that provide native 10 GbE connectivity, plus enabling technology for 10 GbE copper transceivers, such as Bel Fuse's new S558-10GB-XX magnetic module that bumps signals more than 100 meters over CAT 6A or 7 cabling.

Meanwhile, Microsoft and Intel recently delivered more than 1 million IOPS over a iSCSI SAN using Windows Server 2008 R2 and the Xeon 5500 platform. The feat did require numerous storage targets, but it was accomplished with a single client and only one 10 GbE NIC and without the use of an iSCSI HBA.

Existing 1 GbE plants should have an easier time moving up to a 10 GbE environment with the latest storage controllers hitting the channel. Infortrend's EONStor G6 family, for example, has two new 10 GbE iSCSI/SATA devices -- the S16E-R1240 and the S16E-G1240 -- that incorporate Blade Network Technologies RackSwitch G8124 switch, with an expansion enclosure capable of holding 112 SAS and SATA drives.

It's no secret that with servers and storage units churning out increased data loads in the virtualization era, networks are being taxed even as business activity remains in the doldrums. If action starts to pick up again in 2010 as many people expect, the need to a robust network infrastructure is likely to become even more critical.

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