The fact is that every company’s networking needs are different. Because of this, there’s no single solution for networking beyond the borders of the building. Here's an overview to help you make the right decision for your enterprise's needs.
By Wayne Rash
Wayne Rash has been writing technical articles about computers and networking since the mid-1970s. He is a former columnist for Byte Magazine, a former Editor of InternetWeek, and currently performs technical reviews of networking, wireless, and data center products. He is the former Director of Network Integration for American Management Systems and is one of the founders of the Advanced Network Computing Laboratory at the University of Hawaii. He is based in Washington, DC, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The fact is that every company’s networking needs are different. Because of this, there’s no single solution for networking beyond the borders of the building. In fact, some companies may need more than one solution because of their diverse needs.
- Standard office communications, even among distant locations, usually require an Ethernet connection. This allows you to use existing networking infrastructure and security solutions without having to add personnel skills or additional hardware.
- Most storage traffic, including iSCSI communications with storage area networks, will (or at least can) work with Ethernet, which helps control costs and retains flexibility.
- A virtualized computing environment requires Ethernet under normal circumstances. While virtualized drivers for other protocols and adapters may exist, Ethernet is the default for every virtualized environment and operating system.
- A campus networking environment nearly always requires Ethernet, except in specialized applications where very high bandwidth and low latency are required.
- Some specialized applications, such as data center mirroring or storage mirroring, require very high bandwidth, coupled with very low latency. These can only be achieved with a direct fiber connection, which can include dark fiber and may include wavelength services. Normally these applications are distance limited due to propagation delays.
- Long distance communications, such as undersea or transcontinental links, require alternatives to Ethernet between metropolitan areas. However, they can be provided by the network service provider and likely are transparent to the end user.
- Dark fiber and wavelength services require the acquisition of geographically diverse network paths to avoid a single point of failure if the fiber cable is damaged. Ethernet services may provide redundancy as part of the package.