Apr 07 2011

Why 10 Gig-E Makes Sense

Governments find that 10 Gigabit Ethernet supports growing data stores and data consolidation and virtualization projects.

May 2011 E-newsletter

Networking Insurance Policy

Why 10 Gig-E Makes Sense

Get Ready for the Cloud

Cisco's Small-Office Switch

Proper Planning Is Key

The South Carolina Department of Revenue (SC DOR) is a busy place. Last year, the agency deposited 1,618,832 checks, processed 57,610 batches and deposited more than $9.7 billion. The SC DOR processes about 9.25 million transactions annually, is responsible for collecting 91 percent of the state's general fund, and also regulates and licenses retail establishments, bingo operations and alcoholic beverage sellers.

SC DOR's IT infrastructure gets a lot of work, and there's a great deal of data flowing between physical and virtual servers and storage area networks. That's why the agency is replacing its existing Fibre Channel network with 10 Gigabit Ethernet in its data center to connect its server clusters and SANs.

"This will give enhanced performance to the network for our clients, and will help make more efficient use of resources like bandwidth," says Scott Shealy, IT security and network topology manager for SC DOR. Shealy adds that the upgrade will also reduce the cabling and wiring, making the network easier to manage.

A lot of organizations are upgrading their data center environments to aggregate traffic from multiple Gigabit Ethernet links connected to other switches, hypervisor machines or physical computers, says Jeremy Littlejohn, president of consulting firm RISC Networks. Littlejohn works closely with CIOs and IT managers to help them optimize the reliability, scalability and performance of their IT infrastructures.

As for the benefits of 10 Gig-E, Littlejohn says organizations that upgrade expect to see faster backups and improved data traffic flows. Despite these clear benefits, Littlejohn cautions that organizations need to examine the root cause of their application performance/backup equation before they try to fix any networking issues with more bandwidth.

He says 10 Gig-E is not always the answer. Typically, his group tells customers to focus more on input/output discards (as opposed to input/output bandwidth) as they monitor their networks.

"The discards tell the story of overutilization and performance issues such as dropped packets -- the No. 1 problem in campus LANs -- and can be the best indicator for a 10 Gig-E upgrade," he explains.

Live Feeds Need Speed

Five years ago, the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission (NFBC) began implementing 10 Gig-E to handle the bandwidth-intensive live feeds of video culled from the more than 300 cameras the agency uses to monitor traffic, bridge crossing, toll booths and access control points into its various facilities.

Created in 1938, the NFBC is managed by an eight-member board of commissioners appointed by the Premier of Ontario and the Governor of New York. The NFBC owns and operates three bridges: the Lewiston–Queenston Bridge, the Rainbow Bridge and the Whirlpool Bridge.

The estimated growth in enterprise data through 2013

SOURCE: Gartner

The agency needed ample network bandwidth to handle all the data coming from the video cameras and access control points installed along the bridges, as well as at U.S.–Canadian customs plazas on the bridges. The data flows into the NFBC's operations center at the commission's administrative headquarters in Lewiston, N.Y.

Networking infrastructure for the NFBC includes a number of Brocade products, including Brocade's 10 Gig-E BigIron RX backbone switches. David Woods, the NFBC's IT manager , says many of the commission's core, higher-utilization servers are cabled via Gigabit Ethernet links into a BigIron RX aggregation switch, and from there the networking core is a 10 Gig-E link. There is also a 10 Gig-E link from the administrative headquarters to the Rainbow Bridge and to several remote facilities.

The 10 Gig-E capability was installed about five years ago during an infrastructure upgrade, Woods says. "We have a very demanding video application, and we wanted to future-proof the network," he says. "10 Gigabit Ethernet is good for probably longer than I need to worry about."

10 Gig-E in a Nutshell

Why are more organizations deploying 10 Gigabit Ethernet in their data centers? They want to deliver bandwidth levels that can support ever-increasing data stores, server virtualization and data center consolidation.

10 Gig-E products are built to support such projects. For example, with virtualization, server utilization goes up. And with this increased utilization comes increased network bandwidth needs.

On the data consolidation front, 10 Gig-E can connect backbone switches and routers between data, storage and server networks. It also increases the bandwidth capacity for the backbone, reducing network latency between switches and routers. And because it's Ethernet, there's built-in plug-and-play with existing equipment, reducing administration and operating costs.

Finally, 10 Gig-E gives organizations a clear path to 40 Gig-E and 100 Gig-E, both of which will be vital for meeting the future bandwidth requirements that will likely come with cloud computing.