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The Future of Ethernet

May 13, 2015

Ethernet has come a long way since it was first introduced, but even now, it is just getting started.

Ethernet has come a long way since it was first introduced, but even now, it is just getting started.

The limits of Ethernet’s capacity are few, and as improvements in electronics have come about, Ethernet networks have evolved to offer more capacity, more availability, and have become more essential for doing business — and gaining a competitive edge. While the original Ethernet specification provided a bandwidth increment of 10 megabits per second (Mbps), the current standard is 1,000 Mbps — otherwise known as “Gigabit Ethernet.” And as always, Ethernet is all about interoperability: Different types of equipment, from different manufacturers, easily and seamlessly work together.

Gigabit Ethernet would have been almost unimaginable not too long ago, but today, virtually every device and interface connected to a network supports it — from laptops to data center servers. It’s a remarkable achievement, yet as businesses increasingly embrace new tools that drive their business, like cloud and virtualization, they’ll need even more capacity and better performance. Ethernet will deliver them.

Hardware that can support 40 and even 100 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) is available from a few vendors, and a push for yet another once-unimaginable threshold — 400 GbE — is the subject of a standards-setting effort within the IEEE, the organization charged with creating global network technology specifications. In 2013, Comcast Business completed one of the first live network trials of a 1 Terabit optical transmission over a 620 mile circuit. That was just a trial, but the point is that unlike in the 70s and 80s, the wide area network is no longer the limiting factor in distributed computing.

Today’s businesses understand just how important the network is to their success and their growth. Cloud services, e-commerce, business continuity, and the increasingly far-flung footprints of companies require robust, reliable, and low-latency connections. Businesses need a network that makes the data and applications they rely on perform like they are all in the same building — and supports fast and efficient interaction with customers and clients. They’ll need a network, too, that can grow as the traffic grows. IBM says that 90 percent of all the data that exists in the world today was created in the last two years. So expandability is critical, allowing business to meet increasing demands without sacrificing performance. Ethernet can be that dynamic network platform from which critical applications are launched and supported, today and into the future.

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