10 Gigabit upgrade helps college modernize network

By , Network World |  Networking, Ethernet, Extreme Networks

While the tech industry looks ahead to 40 Gigabit Ethernet and 100 Gigabit Ethernet, lots of IT shops are still undergoing the transition to 10 Gig networks.  

At the College of New Jersey, a school with 6,000 students, the IT staff upgraded its core network to 10 Gigabit bandwidth one year ago to improve performance and replace out-of-date equipment.

"With 10 Gigabit, it seems like its time has come," says Alan Bowen, who currently serves as the college's manager of IT security and was previously the network systems engineer. "Its price per port has come down."

The college has been buying network equipment from Extreme Networks for almost a decade and was ready for an upgrade to the vendor's new switches last year. (Extreme last week dismissed CEO Mark Canepa and 9% of the company's workforce, in an effort to improve the company's bottom line.)

"Our issue for upgrading was that we had aging equipment," Bowen says. "This equipment was installed in August 2000, and this stuff ages in dog years. It was well past its prime."

The college spent about $300,000 for upgrades including Extreme's BlackDiamond 8800 Series 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches, as well as the vendor's Summit X450a switches for a new distribution layer to create redundancy throughout the campus network.

The new 10 Gigabit capabilities help deliver performance to widely used applications, like a student information system, e-learning systems, and payroll.

"We need Internet connectivity to our users. We do a lot of Web 2.0 stuff that's mostly hosted on campus," and use software-as-a-service applications from outside the network, he says.

Internet bandwidth is the college's biggest limiting factor, Bowen says, but he didn't need 10 Gigabit speeds throughout the whole network. Gigabit Ethernet is still good enough for many academic and residential buildings, he says.

For many users, "the demand isn't there for faster bandwidth," Bowen says. "When we look at port utilization, we hardly ever see more than 100 megabits of throughput."

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