In a release today, Force10 Networks revealed its plans to run with 40GbE in the near future. The 40GbE and 100GbE standards are now (finally!) pending, and in its preparations to roll out gear they have for now chosen the slower but more affordable speed. Force10 will be adding the higher speed to its 10GbE top-of-rack access switch for converging Fibre Channel and Ethernet fabrics, and its E- and C- Series switches are already ready to go.
There was much speculation that 40GbE would find itself obsolete before it was even ratified, and that it would be largely skipped by service providers. If Force10's choice is any indication then what this says is that the industry is done waiting for 100GbE at least for Ethernet in the datacenter. They need to scale now and they need to do it affordably, and that means 40GbE may indeed going to get its turn in the sun. According to Michael Howard at Infonetics:
"The unstoppable crush of data is causing scaling problems in data centers that are today confined to 10 GbE networks. Even though 100 GbE is desired, data center owners are looking for practical relief offered in the lower-cost 40 GbE"
Ah practical economics... always reminding us of the cruel difference between what we can do technologically and what is actually smart to do with the money in our pockets. Of course, 100G will at some point take over, but by then everyone will be declaring the need for 1TbE.
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