10 Gigabit Ethernet Fast Becomes Reality for Some

By James Cope, Computer World |  Networking

While the 10 Gigabit Ethernet standard has yet to be ratified, the technology is already on the job in one metropolitan-area network (MAN). And it promises a faster, easier way to boost bandwidth -- in minutes instead of months, in some cases.

That's why it appeals to companies like Yard Interactive, a Web site development and hosting provider in New York.

Yard develops Web sites for organizations such as The New York Times Co. and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu in New York. The company, which also owns and operates Fertile Thoughts Inc., signed on with MAN provider IntelliSpace Inc. last year. New York-based IntelliSpace is using 10 Gigabit Ethernet technologies provided by Santa Clara, Calif.-based Extreme Networks Inc., even though a standard hasn't yet been adopted.

Although companies can use capacity on IntelliSpace's all-optical network to connect offices in different buildings, Yard President and CEO Doug Sukoloff said his primary requirement is connecting his servers to the Internet.

Sukoloff said his company's bandwidth requirements are continually increasing. "We started off [with IntelliSpace] at 5M bit/sec.," he said. "At the moment, we have 8M bit/sec., and we're just about to increase again -- possibly double it. And in nine months, we could double it again."

Turning up more bandwidth is no big deal, Sukoloff said, because the optical fiber link that IntelliSpace has connected at his building is capable of as much as 10G bit/sec.

"We can turn up bandwidth in about an hour," Sukoloff said. "It would take six to nine months to get that kind of pipe in your building [from a phone company]." The cost on a per-megabit basis is about the same as ordering multiple T1 lines.

Although the network is running on 10 Gigabit Ethernet technology ahead of ratification of the standard, Stan Schatt, an analyst at Giga Information Group Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., said it's not unusual to have equipment in the field before standards are finalized.

He added that he expects 10 Gigabit Ethernet to be widely adopted both in MANs and for backbones in large campus settings.

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