We've established that 10 GbE is now ready for the enterprise, which means it is time to start worrying about whether your Internet service provider (ISP) is adopting 100 gigabit Ethernet (100 GbE). ISPs aggregate enterprise traffic and connect you to the Internet over high speed optical networks that must ensure the adequate bandwidth and quality of service (QoS) you require.

While the majority of customers won’t fill their 10 GbE pipes this year or next, many will; advanced applications such as high definition video streaming, video conferencing, data replication, and wide area clustering for business continuity will tax bandwidth. Moreover, corporate networks will take advantage of the better bandwidth of 10 GbE to shift to IP-based Unified Communications (UC.) Forrester Research found that 36% of enterprises in North America and Europe have deployed or are rolling out UC this year with another 36% evaluating it. All these high-bandwidth services require strong QoS to meet enterprise needs and drive adoption.

While 10 GbE becomes more pervasive, the aggregate traffic will reach to multi-terabits originating from enterprise data centers and content providers such as YouTube. Sure, ISPs can add more 10 GbE links to their environment to accommodate this growth but efficient networking comes from the aggregation and ability to oversubscribe a shared pipe — which 100 GbE will enable. 100 GbE is necessary to prevent bottlenecking that would cripple the adoption of these high bandwidth services. With gas prices topping $4.00 a gallon, the potential degradation to increasingly critical videoconferencing systems alone is reason to make this investment.

Unfortunately, 100 GbE still hasn’t left the drawing board; the standard is expected to be ratified in early 2010. However, vendors such as Force10 Networks and Infinera are working on 100 GbE platforms today. ISPs who invest early in 100 GbE stand to reap significant gains with enterprises driving the delivery of high bandwidth services — you will need them as much as they will need you. If your enterprise has aggressive plans in this area, get your ISPs on the phone and determine their plans and timeframes. Make sure they line up with your needs and that the bandwidth you need will be there when you need it.

In the meantime, it behooves you to invest in WAN optimizers and application accelerators, popular methods to improve latency issues. These investments will help bullet proof your high bandwidth service deployments as 100 GbE matures as an enterprise solution.

By James Staten and Robert Whiteley

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