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Gigabit Ethernet: Boost Your Bandwidth

By Kevin Fogarty  |  Posted 2004-08-08 Print this article Print

Upgrading your network to gigabit Ethernet can be cool and sending data is fast, but watch your wallet.

Most companies upgrade networks to centralize storage, run phone traffic over the data network, or build applications using Web Services or other bandwidth-hungry enhancements, says Abner Germanow, principal local area network analyst at International Data Corp. It's hard to justify big bucks for the latest networking technology just to add stability or speed.
But it's getting a little easier to justify Gigabit Ethernet, which pushes a billion bits per second across even fairly long network distances. Gigabit Ethernet is the current must-have technology among network managers because it is both faster and more manageable than other flavors of Ethernet. It is also becoming more popular due to price drops and technological advances such as the ability to run across copper cables as well as fiber-optic. Vendors who mix slower versions of Ethernet on the same switches as Gigabit have also helped, by letting networkers choose which capacity to give each user or group.

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Of course, when you install Gigabit Ethernet for workers, you need bigger pipes to consolidate all of that data. One option is to bundle several Ethernet connections into one EtherChannel, which is relatively efficient but requires management of 16 devices and connections per channel.

Another possibility is 10-Gbps Ethernet, which until recently has been prohibitively expensive at more than $10,000 per connection. Prices for 10-Gig are dropping, however, making big-pipe networking more cost-effective for network managers who equate fat pipes with stable networks and happy users.

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