Scotty, We Need More Bandwidth!

A slew of news out this morning — ranging from AT&T’s $1 billion expansion of its network to Cisco’s update of its unified computing system — highlights the continued need to invest in networking. We’re piling on compute power and boosting storage at a much faster pace than our networking infrastructure can handle — both inside the data center (GigaOM Pro sub req’d) and on the long haul networks running between (GigaOM Pro sub req’d)  them. There isn’t really a Moore’s law that pertains to networking.

Which is why in some cases, it’s just a matter of plunking down more cash to add gear and perhaps undersea capacity, as AT&T said it plans to do for business networks. Cisco is taking a doubled-side approach to the networking bottleneck by providing servers that can deliver faster and easier networking inside virtualized data centers with an upgrade to its unified computing system, as well as building routers for long haul and edge networks that can handle a whole lotta terabytes. Last month Marvell upped the data center networking ante by announcing 40 gigabit Ethernet chips for when 10 won’t do.

And back to the long haul networks, Cisco sold its massive ASR-9000 core network router to NTT Communications Corp. last week,and today, EETimes quotes NTT CTO Doug Junkins as explaining why isn’t pleased by the higher prices for advanced networking gear (the optics components are 10-30 times more expensive than for 10 GigE gear), but is ready to take the plunge because of customer demand:

“We are a wholesale IP transit provider, and our highest growth is in 10G Ethernet ports for new customers,” said Junkins who is also vice president of IP development for NTT Communications’ business network unit. “We have customers today bundling more than ten 10G Ethernets from our backbone to their net, so the day 100G Ethernet is available, we will start provisioning for it,” he said.

It’s not just consumers downloading video or the love of smartphones that’s causing bandwidth demand to skyrocket, but the need for access to software, platforms and infrastructure as a service by businesses and our increasing reliance on the network for improving productivity and seeding innovation.

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