Enterprises Ramping up Ethernet Architectures

Arthur Cole
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Just How Strategic is the Cloud?

Most see cloud computing as a strategic move, but security is still a prime concern.

If anymore evidence is needed that cloud computing is poised to make major gains in enterprise architectures next year, take a look at the Ethernet market where sales are going through the roof.

According to IDC, the third quarter Ethernet switch market grew at a robust 6.1 percent compared to the same period a year ago, generating revenues of $5.9 billion. Seeing a particularly high demand are 10 GbE products, gaining 29.9 percent year over year to more than 2 million ports.

At the same time, the Ethernet router market gained 2.9 percent in 3Q11. Both the switch and router numbers mark a distinct change over the first half of the year and point to an exceptionally strong Asia-Pacific region, which accounted for more than 25 percent of the worldwide total.

The quarter was good for Cisco, which captured two-thirds of the Layer 2/3 market - a yearly high, according to IDC. At the same time, the company owns nearly three-quarters of the 10 GbE market. Still, the news wasn't all bad for Cisco's chief rival Brocade, which saw Ethernet revenues gain 12 percent in its fiscal fourth quarter, contributing largely to a 13 percent gain in overall switching products for the year. Ethernet sales to service providers were healthy, gaining 33 percent in fiscal 2011.

With mounting economic activity in North America, it's a safe bet that most Ethernet vendors will have a happy holidays provided they target the right market segments. Avaya, for example, has expressed designs on the enterprise market, but is rightly cautious of taking on Cisco, Brocade and others in core systems. Rather, the company has a new campus edge device through which it can more easily leverage its know-how of carrier networks. The ERS 4800 switch provides plug-and-play capability for IP telephony and is optimized for collaborative environments through support of the company's Virtual Enterprise Network Architecture.

As I mentioned, all of this activity points to a fundamental shift in data center architectures: In the cloud, where infinite resources can be had on a whim, it no longer matters how much data you can process and store, but how quickly and efficiently you can move it from place to place.

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