Historically in the area of telecommunications, diverse technologies have come together to create or enable significant new products, services and applications. This confluence continues today with the development of ultra-high-speed 10-Gigabit Ethernet networks.

Recent breakthroughs in optical

networking, small form factor interfaces, coupled with revolutionary new semiconductor designs are now making possible fully integrated data networks that operate at speeds once thought inconceivable in the local-area network arena.

The earliest Ethernet networks, developed a quarter century ago, operated at rates of 10 Mb/s. Later iterations of Ethernet, still in use by companies worldwide, operated at 100 Mb/s. More recently, Gigabit Ethernet switches are being implemented to deliver 1,000 Mb/s in building backbones, campuses and over the next few years to the desktop.

But now the first 10-Gigabit Ethernet switches — 10,000 megabits per second — are becoming a practical reality.

Why is this important? Most businesses have implemented or are considering 100 Mb/s at the desktop today. After all, this data rate is sufficient for access to most static web pages, basic video-conferencing, and relatively high quality Voice over IP (VoIP) services.

But 100 Mb/s applications are available primarily to companies with major backbone networks. Often, small and mid-sized businesses — and divisions of major corporations — have only a T-1/E-1 line (or a fractional T-1/E-1) for voice and data communications. In these cases, videoconferencing, VoIP and other broadband applications are restricted to a handful of users or not available at all.

More advanced applications like TV-quality pictures and sound, virtual enterprise connectivity for advanced Internet e-commerce, and efficient long-distance learning are literally impossible.

But 10 Gigabit Ethernet will deliver and help optimize all these services — and do it widely and inexpensively for the companies with the vision to plan for it.

Just as the original Ethernet technology drove the growth of local-area networks for more than 25 years, 10 Gigabit Ethernet should drive the development and expansion of metropolitan-area networks (MANs), delivering the newest broadband services to businesses of all types and sizes. In addition, much needed bandwidth capacity will be made available in campus and building backbone networks? 10 Gigabit Ethernet should allow Application Service Providers (ASPs) and developing Ethernet Local Exchange Companies (ELECs) to compete more effectively, offering 100 times more bandwidth than T-1/E-1 lines at the same cost. By the first half of 2002 — when the first 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches hit the market — ASPs and ELECs could generate 100 times more revenue from a single Ethernet line than competing service providers can with existing T-1/E-1 services. Customers that migrate to the high-speed Ethernet technology will also increase efficiencies.

Server to switch connectivity will be greatly enhanced and building backbone bandwidth congestion will be virtually eliminated.

With significantly improved revenue generation potential for service providers, expanded infrastructure scalability, and ease of network management, enterprise networks will be enabled for the emergence of high-end broadband applications and services. The extended combination of Ethernet and IP technologies should also provide for the end-to-end connectivity and flexibility required by end users, as well as consistent Quality of Service, and security management for administrators.

The industry is working to assure the future of the technology through the combined efforts of vendors and network providers in a variety of standards-development bodies, including the IEEE 802.3 Task Force and the IETF Ethernet Interfaces and HUB Work Group. Avaya is proud to participate in these efforts and in fact is chairing the IETF Work Group. Avaya is also a participating member of the Metro Ethernet Forum and the 10-Gigabit Ethernet Alliance (10gea.org).

Michel Barnick is the solutions marketing director, connectivity solutions, for Avaya. Barnick develops the strategic messaging and positioning for Systimax SCS and offers marketing salesware and communication activities in support of sales and Business Partners.

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