Ethernet Deployments Hitting Stride

Arthur Cole

The Ethernet juggernaut keeps gathering steam with enterprises around the globe-a result of the drive to lay the virtual and cloud foundations that will support advanced data services in the next decade and beyond.

Despite the still weak economy, investment in Ethernet technology continues at a blistering pace, according to two recent market reports. Infonetics pegs the third quarter Ethernet switch market at $4.7 billion, a 3 percent increase over the same period a year ago. That puts the switch market on pace for a record $18.5 billion for the year, a 29 percent gain on 2009. Equally impressive was the enterprise router market, which has made up for ground lost in 2009 in the crucial markets of China, Japan and the U.S. That sector is up 15 percent compared to the same quarter last year.

A look at port counts paints an even brighter picture. Dell'Oro Group reports Ethernet port deployments are up 33 percent in the third quarter, led primarily by strong results in 10 GbE switching. Top performers were Cisco, HP and Juniper in L2-L3 switching, and F5 in L4-7 load balancing.

And it seems likely that the Ethernet ball will continue to roll based on the direction of development, which is marked both by increases in throughput and lower operating costs through new energy-efficient designs. HP, for example, just announced a new line of green switches that are said to cut TCO in half. The new E-Series zl devices are built to the IEEE's new energy efficiency standards and contain technologies similar to those found in storage devices, such as sleep mode for idle periods.

The green movement is likely to remain a facet of switch development for some time if activity on the component level is any indication. Vitesse Semiconductor is currently shipping pre-production models of new Layer 2 and transceiver silicon aimed at reducing power consumption some 75 percent. Systems range from eight to 26 managed and unmanaged ports incorporating such innovative technologies as PerfectReach, which calculates the length of attached cables and adjusts power supplies accordingly.

The uptick in Ethernet activity bodes well for the entire enterprise infrastructure industry for the coming year, as it points to the seriousness in which organizations are approaching virtual and cloud architectures. With the network fabric in place, expect high demand for new generations of end-point technologies going forward.

All in all, 2011 is shaping up to be a pretty good year for the tech industry.

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