Introducing Crossnodes Briefings on CIN

CIN today introduces a new resource for its members. Crossnodes Briefings offer background on key enterprise technologies and Crossnodes Product Briefings offer the background as well as lists and links to vendors and their products.

Produced by Crossnodes, an site, the briefings contain an overview of the technology and other information you need to know before purchasing and implementing a specific technology.

CIN has archived nine Crossnodes items under the Great Docs section of our site, in a category we’re calling Technology Briefings. There you’ll find Crossnodes Briefings on firewalls, WLANs, network storage, gigabit NICs, network diagnostic tools, network management software, network security suites, wireless LAN connections, and e-commerce servers.

We’ll also be adding to the archive this latest Crossnodes Briefing (below), on gigabit Ethernet switches, and will periodically add new briefings to the Great Docs section.

(Great Docs, as you may or may not know, is CIN’s repository for all sorts of documents ofr interest to CIOs, including surveys and studies, IT policies for members’ companies, archived reports and other information. Find the link on the lefthand navigation bar, or click here.

Let us know if you find these briefings helpful. Feel free to send along comments to the editorial staff at [email protected].

With that, here’s a Crossnodes Briefing on gigabit Ethernet switches:

Crossnodes Product Briefing: Gigabit Ethernet Switches

By Dayna Delmonico

Don’t look now, but Ethernet is about to go anywhere it pleases! If you haven’t invested in Gigabit Ethernet you will shortly or, at the very least, be preparing your network infrastructure for the technology.

Predictions were that vendors would cut Gigabit prices this year and they have. Network Interface Cards (NICs) are priced under $300 with some as low as $200. Switch prices per port range from $400 to as low as $250 depending upon who you talk to. That’s quite a drop considering the price last year averaged around $700 per port. Though still twice as expensive as Fast Ethernet’s $125 per port price tag, Gigabit technology is suddenly more attractive for the average LAN.

With falling prices, Gigabit Ethernet doesn’t seem so extravagant, even to the desktop. In the past year 3Com, Cisco, Alcatel, Asante, and Netgear have joined the Gigabit over copper market with workgroup class switches (see our product line-up below). So, couple Gigabit speed and price with the proliferation of resource-intensive applications, and Gigabit Ethernet is looking better all the time.

It’s looking so good, in fact, that International Data Corp. predicts Gigabit Ethernet sales will grow at an annual rate of more than 100 percent through 2004. That’s when Gigabit will overtake its sibling, Fast Ethernet, as the dominant LAN switching technology.

Like most technologies, as widespread adoption of 1Gb Ethernet takes off, 10 Gigabit Ethernet is waiting in the wings. The idea that with a data rate of 10 Gbps, 10 Gb of data is transmitted in 8 seconds is enough to make a network manager swoon. Thought the standard won’t be set until 2002, pre-standard products have already been announced and previewed; though availability is six months to a year away.

But don’t work 10Gb products into your 2002 budgets just yet. Pre-standard products are aimed at the largest enterprises and MAN and WAN service providers, and they come with a price tag to match. So far the only vendor to venture a guess at pricing is Foundry Networks, which is releasing a single port blade for around $45,000. Other vendors think that will be about average for 10Gb, for the time being at least, probably too rich for the vast majority of data centers to be early adopters. Even so analysts are predicting revenue, just for 10 Gigabit Ethernet, to top $500 million next year and help Gigabit Ethernet reach well over $2 billion by 2004.

Beyond the initial target market, though, other demands and newer technologies are expected to drive the market into the Enterprise realm down the road. Not only is the proliferation of Gigabit over copper to the desktop on of those but, LAN-on-motherboard network interfaces and LAN convergence technologies like SANs and iSCSI (Small Computer Systems Interface over IP) are just a few that are expected to drive Enterprise demand.

Network Gigabit Switches

Company: 3Com
Product: Switch 4007 / 4005 Gigabit Switch Modules
Price Range: $1,195 to $1,995 1-port Layer 3 modules; 
             $2,995 to $12,995 Multilayer / multiport modules
Description: Multilayer and Layer 3 modules; 1, 4 and 9 port 

Company: Alcatel
Product: Omnicore Enterprise Routing Switches
Features: 20-port and up models; SNMP with MIB support; 
          RMON; port mirroring

Company: Asante
Product: FriendlyNET GX4 Series Switches
Price: $1,149 4 Port; $1,999  7 Port
Features: Gigabit over Copper; 2 to 7 port models 

Product: FriendlyNET 7000 Switches
Features: Gigabit over fiber: 1000BaseSX

Product: Intracore Series
Features: Enterprise switches

Company: Avaya 
Product: Cajun Series Switches
Features: workgroup, LAN, backbone and multifunction models

Company: Cisco
Product: Catalyst 3550-12T; 2950T-24 
Approximate Price: $9,995; $1,495
Features: Gigabit over copper; 3550-12T multiplayer; 
          2950T-24  24 10/100 ports, 
          2 fixed 10/100/1000BaseT uplink ports.

Company: Extreme Networks
Product: Summit24; Summit 48
Description: Desktop switches

Product: Summit1; Summit4; Summit/5
Description: data center/enterprise; gigabit only 
             and gigabit plus 10/100Mbps models

Product: Black Diamond Series
Description: Core switches

Company: Hewlett-Packard Company
Product: Procurve 8000M/4000M/1600M
Description: Desktop/wiring closet switches; RMON 

Product: Procurve 9308M/9304M Routing Switches
Description: Backbone; 1/100/1000 managed modular switch; 
             32 to 64 Gb ports

Company: Intel Corporation
Product: NetStructure 470T/F Switch; 480T Routing Switch
Description: 470T/F Layer 2, 8-port 1000BASE-SX or 6-port 
             100/1000T; 480T multiplayer 12-port 100/1000T.

Company: NetGear
Product: FS Series; GS Series
Description: fiber port and gigabit over copper port models

Other Gigabit Ethernet switch vendors include Lucent Technologies and Nortel.