The data center network in 2012

All signs point to 10 Gigabit and 40 Gigabit Ethernet gathering steam in the coming year.

If you want to know what 2012 holds regarding data center networking, head over to this article by Network World’s Jim Duffy. The article is great wrap up of the data center/cloud switching fabric market this year, and offers some insights into next year’s.

For example, it discusses Cisco’s FabricPath enhancements in 2011 that extended it end-to-end, from the server network interface card to the network core and mentions Cisco’s new fabric switch line, based on merchant silicon, under the codename "Jawbreaker."

There are plenty of interesting tidbits and predictions, including a bit about 10 Gigabit and 40 Gigiabit Ethernet. Expect to see plenty of 10 Gigabit on server motherboards. You can even expect to see some 10 Gigabit Ethernet LAN-on-a-motherboard by early next year. All of which means 10 Gigibit at the edge and the start of 40 Gigabit in the core. As Shehzad Merchant, senior director of strategy for Extreme, says in Duffy’s story, “2012 will be a big year for 40G."

According to a new study by Bishop & Associates on Gigabit data communications connectors and cable assemblies, the market for 40 Gigabit Ethernet products is expected to explode from less than $50 million in 2012 to more than $300 million in 2015.

Cloud computing, no doubt, is driving adoption of 10 Gigabit and 40 Gigabit Ethernet. After all, cloud computing requires flexible network infrastructures that support large volumes of data traffic. The network fabrics must also support the convergence of storage and data IP networks while at the same time facilitating the use of technologies such as virtual servers so organizations can leverage cloud computing. (And remember, virtual servers demand a lot more I/O bandwidth.)

10 Gigabit Ethernet is a good starting point at the edge. It increases the bandwidth capacity for the backbone, and reduces network latency. And because it’s Ethernet, there’s built-in plug-and-play with existing equipment, reducing administration and operating costs.

Moreover, with 10 Gigabit Ethernet, there’s a clear roadmap to 40 Gigabit and 100 Gigabit Ethernet, which will be vital in meeting the growing bandwidth requirements that come with cloud computing.

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