Storage on 10G networks

SANAT Technologies, India – Current Technology:

Gigabit Ethernet, a transmission technology based on the Ethernet frame format and protocol used in local area networks (LANs), provides a data rate of 1 billion bits per second (one gigabit). Gigabit Ethernet is defined in the IEEE 802.3 standard and is currently being used as the backbone in many enterprise networks. The Competing technology FC is designed to transmit data between computer devices at data rates of up to 4 gigabits per second. FC Technology is well known in the Enterprise levels on account of Superior business application uptime & Affordable business continuity.

Future Trend:

10GbE enables the use of Ethernet for transporting data, voice and video traffic within an enterprise and a carrier’s network. With 10G, companies will have the capability to provide data rates of 10 billion bits per second. The 10GbE networks are more economical when compared with FC. Mission-critical applications & Tier 2 applications would run on iSCSI environment with the evolution of 10G solutions.

In Fiber Channel, all traffic is equal. There is no way to prioritize one stream over another. With IP, we have several options for doing this, both to provide QoS for different types of storage traffic and to provide QoS for storage traffic in general over messaging traffic for mixed configurations. This assures stability for the upper layer storage applications.

Advantages of 10G Networks:

• Low total cost of ownership (TCO)

• Straightforward migration to high performance levels

• Proven multi-vendor and installed base interoperability (Plug and Play)

• Familiar network management feature set

• Supports all traffic types-data, voice and video over IP

• 10 Gigabit Ethernet does not obsolete current investments in network infrastructure

• Flexibility in network design

• Ability to support jumbo or large frame sizes to reduce the network overhead.

A 10GBASE-T standard that is in the works will support 10GbE over new wiring at distances of up to 330 feet and existing wiring at distances of up to 182 feet. The ratification of the IEEE standard is an important milestone as it removes specification uncertainties for the manufacturers of 10GBASE-T switches and will lead to the commercial availability of electronics within the year.

When we drive GbE to the desk, the communication to the core must be in multiple of 1Gbps. By using a 10G uplink, you can ensure non-blocking communication between the edge switch and the core network. Hence, 10G ensures non-blocking bandwidth in the network. The Ethernet uplink backbone is crucial in the data center network and the chain is as strong as its weakest link. Deployment of 10G in the data center is inevitable because of the application demands.

Users might save more on administration than on hardware costs, since there's a far larger supply of network administrators trained in Ethernet than in Fiber Channel. Another advantage for iSCSI is that it is "an ideal environment" for virtualization, because it allows administrators to move virtual servers among physical machines without reconfiguring the zoning and logical unit number (LUN) masking in the storage network.

Most motherboards come with a default Gigabit Ethernet port. Fast Ethernet is ten times faster than standard Ethernet and runs at 100 Mbps. Gigabit Ethernet is hundred times faster than standard Ethernet and runs at 1,000 Mbps. Gigabit Ethernet is generally employed for high-speed backbone architectures that are required to handle a large number of devices on the network.

Today, Fast Ethernet installations outnumber the Gigabit variety as it offers sufficient performance in many cases. A large number of network adapters now support all three Ethernet speeds and are commonly referred to as 10/100/1000 adapters.

India is emerging as the fastest growing market for Ethernet products, due to the increasing use of bandwidth and Internet Protocols (IP) for voice, data and video by enterprises across verticals. Betting on high reliability and performance, the cost of ownership of Ethernet products is more economical.

10GbE over copper’s popularity is definitely picking up in India. As modern day applications are bandwidth-hungry and require lower latency, enterprises and financial institutions including banks are evaluating 10GbE as a solution for their data centers or Storage Area Networks (SANs) as it merges with the existing Ethernet infrastructures. Although, at this point of time, 10Gbps over copper has found few takers in India, once support over active devices, especially switches, becomes available, the technology should take off.

Demand for bandwidth has shot up as a result of the way businesses is using networking to improve productivity. The development of enhanced client-server applications and convergence of voice, data, and video have also fuelled this demand. The high demand for bandwidth has resulted in an increased demand for higher speed switches and routers. To help fill this gap, the IEEE has formed a task force to develop a standard for 10GbE over structured copper cabling. Bandwidth-hungry applications, proliferation of data centers, switches with the 10G capabilities and faster speed and higher uptime are all factors that are expected to boost the adoption of 10GbE.

Superior bandwidth:

LAN backbones are expected to adopt this technology at the earliest. 10GbE will encompass all IP networks across the enterprise. It is the preferred LAN backbone connectivity option today. With 100 Mbps Ethernet to each desktop and 10GbE connecting the wiring closet switches to the backbone, 10 GbE provides a scalable interconnection between the LAN backbone switches. 10GbE copper technology is perfect for load balancing and we are also evaluating the technology for last mile connectivity at selected locations. The technology is helpful where zero delay is required for resource-intensive applications such as ERP, CRM or SCM.

10GbE over copper will help speed up throughput and in case the Internet Service Provider uses this technology it will help provide optimum reliability to users. This technology can be a boon for mission-critical applications such as ERP and for messaging and collaboration. It is also beneficial for video streaming. 10GbE over copper is expected to bring in change in IP SANs that will move towards 10GbE as it offers a simplified and cost-effective interconnect mechanism when compared to other technologies that are available. Cabling vendors are of the opinion that the adoption of 10GbE over copper will make high-speed IP SANs a viable option.

Copper vs. FTTD:

The idea of fibre to the desktop (FTTD) has been around for quite some time. Early proponents of FTTD cited problems with UTP systems and limited distances as reasons for their recommendations. There are 10GBASE-X fibre applications, and in fact, those needing 10G bandwidth have had fibre options for some time now. In evaluating copper versus FTTD, it is important to include overall network costs (including electronics), not just cabling costs. Fibre components for 10G are expected to settle at a cost that is roughly 10x the cost of a gigabit port. On the copper side, however, the cost will be about 3x the cost of a gigabit port or roughly one third the cost of a 10G fibre port. The same cost differential applies. It is also noteworthy that the 10GBASE-T copper chips will auto-negotiate from 10 Mbps up to 10 Gbps. This means that one chip will be used for all network connections. It is far less expensive to mass produce one chip than several varieties. As 10GBASE-T chips begin mass production, they will begin to surface in server NICs, switch ports etc.

Challenges ahead:

In any growing market, identifying initial challenges and how to deal with them is a decisive factor in a technology’s future. 10GbE networks are gaining ground but some challenges remain to be tackled.

Highlighting key elements that need to be worked upon, Customer awareness is low as to what a real 10GbE solution is. Customers take a call on the basis of market perception rather than the technical reality. This could hamper adoption of this technology in the long run. 10GbE vendors should show the path by telling the customer what the pros and cons of going for a Cat6a solution are as the technology hasn’t been ratified yet.

The future of 10GbE market is definitely bright in India. From a survey done in India, it was quite evident that nearly 50 percent of organizations understood the importance of upgrading their networks and considered future-proofing their backbone cabling infrastructure using the latest 10G Ethernet equipment.

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