Multi-Gigabit Ethernet Featured Article

It's Time to Improve Your Ethernet

March 24, 2017

If you're not already involved with multi-gigabit Ethernet, or at least making a decent plan to move in that direction, then it's time to get started. Those who don't will have to face competitors who have planned ahead on this front, and no one wants to lose on a competitive advantage that could be available industry-wide. So how should a company make a move to multi-gigabit Ethernet? Turns out it might be simpler than you think.

While multi-gigabit Ethernet has been in play for quite some time, it's only been recently that Wi-Fi speeds have grown to match, and there have been enough bandwidth-intensive requirements—like the growing number of cloud-based options—to make such a move worthwhile. Moreover, the requirements to enter have also changed; formerly, the only real alternative to wired gigabit Ethernet networks was to proceed directly to 10G, but now with 2.5G and 5G on hand, there are simpler measures afoot.

So how does the move get made? Start first by evaluating the load on the current network. If there are a lot of high-demand applications running on the network—usual suspects here include things like video production, computer-aided design (CAD) tools, electromagnetic tools and some other points—or there are a lot of large database transfers going on, then it's a good idea to consider an upgrade. Check with employees to see if it seems like the network's always “bogged down” or difficult to use, and consider a network and application performance analyzer tool, if one isn't already in place, to figure out just what the traffic picture looks like. Don't forget wireless performance in those measures, either.

With the analysis complete, there will be a better idea of what to change, or if anything needs to be changed at all. Going to a full upgrade will require new components, so query vendors about needed items. One great place to start is with the NBASE-T Alliance, an industry group founded by Cisco, Aquantia and others that focuses on multi-gigabit Ethernet operations.

In the end, the key points are to gather information—plenty of it—and then make decisions accordingly. Expect to be grilled extensively about the costs, as these can become substantial by even enterprise standards. Be sure to have clear benefits on hand in performance, and the potential for future cost savings to ameliorate the initial expense. The new network should provide a lot of value in not only cost savings, but potential improvement in revenue thanks to fewer missed opportunities. 

Remember that the competition is making these same upgrades, and failing to keep up will reduce competitiveness going forward. The network is where business gets done, and not keeping it in shape will cost a company in the end.

Edited by Alicia Young

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