Gigabit Ethernet Leaves The Office
High speed LANs need higher speed WAN's
Corporate data networks have been steadily
moving up the speed range from Ethernet to Fast Ethernet (FastE)
to Gigabit Ethernet (GigE) and starting to implement 10 Gigabit
Ethernet (10 GigE). Meanwhile, the lines that leave the campus
are often much lower speed wide area networks. Something seems
a bit out of balance with this model. Here's why it's like that
and why its likely that the corporate LAN is going to be stretched
across town and across the country.
What's Driving The Need For Capacity
Before the big change waves of business
practice re-engineering and supply chain integration, companies
tended to be rather individual, isolated entities. The company
network stayed within the walls of the company. Connections to
the outside world tended to be T1 or PRI lines for the PBX phone
system and X.25, frame relay, or T1 data lines between company
locations. You called customers and suppliers on the phone and
contracts were faxed back and forth or sent overnight mail. Now
its just as likely that you, your customers and your suppliers
all access the same database. The need for Internet access on
every desk drove up the network bandwidth. Moving to voice and
video over IP has multiplied the need again.
Today it is quite possible for company
networks with the data capacity of fire hoses to be interconnected
by external lines with the capacity of garden hoses. In some
cases, its still soda straws. That only works if most of your
traffic stays in the building with just a trickle going outside.
Otherwise there is this giant pressure on each end of the congested
line. Data transfers slow to an annoying crawl. VoIP based phone
calls break up and are dropped. Overnight data backups to an
offsite storage facility may take so long that they can't be
completed before the morning shift begins.
How to Fix Bandwidth Limited Connections
The obvious quick fix is simply to order
bigger versions of the same pipes you have now. T1 lines can
be bonded 2, 3, 4, 5, even 6 times. Then it makes more sense
to switch to a T3 line. Multiple T3 lines can be replaced with
an OC3 fiber optic carrier. OC3 becomes OC12, OC12 gets upgraded
to OC48. Because the T-Carrier and Optical Carrier standards
are all based on the same telco standards, they work well together.
Because of their telephone network origins, they also have high
Another way to go is directly to Ethernet.
With the lines mentioned, your network traffic is converted from
packet based IP to TDM (time division multiplexing) synchronous
transmission and back again. With native Ethernet protocol, it
stays as IP all the way. In many cases the protocol conversions
may be transparent enough that it doesn't matter how the data
is getting from place to place as long as it moving at the right
speed. Native Ethernet vs Ethernet over SONET (Synchronous Optical
NETwork) may be a wash.
On the other hand, where Ethernet transport
service is available it has the advantages of simple interface,
and being easy to understand and manage. Metro Ethernet offering
high speed service within a city is often available as standard
Ethernet (10 Mbps), Fast Ethernet (100 Mbps), Gigabit Ethernet
(1 Gbps) and sometimes 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 Gbps). Redundant
connections can offer the fault protection you get with SONET
rings. You may also be able to lease dark fiber and light it
with your own Ethernet termination equipment.
Managed Ethernet services have some other
interesting options. One is ability to select intermediate bandwidths,
such as 50 Mbps, 300 Mbps and 500 Mbps as well as the standard
Ethernet speeds. This way you gain the cost advantage of buying
only as much bandwidth as you need instead of just order of magnitude
increments. Ethernet connectivity is also available as both Ethernet
Line which is a point to point service between two locations,
and Ethernet LAN which interconnects multiple locations just
like they were on a true local area network.
Find Fiber Optic Bandwidth Services Now
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