Networking industry forces are starting to coalesce around 10 GbE technology as the basic platform for storage and data connectivity, furthering the likelihood that it will soon become nearly ubiquitous throughout the enterprise.
A number of cooperative efforts have sprung up over the last several months, the latest being an industry alliance led by Nimbus Data Systems that counts among its members names like Force 10, Fujitsu, Mellanox, Neterion and NetXen. The group aims to bring together adapter, switch, storage system and other vendors of the network ecosystem to support 10 GbE as a means to foster virtualization and consolidation efforts.
The group is focused particularly on 10 GbE's storage networking capabilities, with expectations that it can lower capital costs up to 70 percent and cut operating costs in half by unifying block- and file-level services.
New system-level alliances are also set to make 10 GbE a common platform on upcoming generations of hardware. Mellanox recently forged an agreement to have its line of single-chip ConnectX controllers used for LAN on Motherboard (LOM) applications across SuperMicro's server family. The chief advantage here is that you gain 10 GbE connectivity without plugging in a separate I/O card. ConnectX also brings along virtualization acceleration and integrated Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE).
10 GbE is certain to have a major presence at next week's Interop show in Las Vegas. The Ethernet Alliance has a full slate of demonstrations lined up, showcasing the technology's adeptness both inside and outside the LAN. On tap are new SPF form factors and PHY links, as well as error-free transmissions aboard the 10GBASE-KR standard.
New cabling solutions are also in the works. ADC will demo its TrueNet CopperTen system by tying multiple 10 GBASE-T devices over a four-connector, 100-meter Category 6 channel. The system comes with a 20-year "Zero-Bit-Error" warranty.
With data loads on the continual upswing and virtualization pushing more of the enterprise performance burden onto the network, 10 GbE is coming along just in time to prevent what otherwise could be a serious bottleneck problem. Still, the central question remains: How long will 10 GbE be able to hold back the floodgates before an even wider bandwidth solution can be established?