Preparations Should Begin for 400GE

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The evolution to 400 Gigabit Ethernet (400GE) will gradually accelerate during the next few years, according to comments by Spirent Communications and a study by the Dell’Oro Group.

Carrier Ethernet speeds currently in the field are significantly slower. During its second quarter earnings call on July 30, two Spirent executives suggested a bit obliquely that companies are starting to get serious about the upgrade. The transcript of the meeting was posted by Seeking Alpha.

CFO Paula Bell and CEO Eric Hutchinson both alluded to moves in the context of drag on the testing company’s current growth. Said Bell:

We experienced some slowing in the second quarter particularly in the Americas. Some of our key customers are now accelerating their transition to 400 gigabit Ethernet testing dampening the second half growth.

And Hutchinson:

In Networks & Security, we’re seeing customers reduce their investments in 100 gigabit Ethernet development whilst they’re planning the setup of new 400 gigabit development laboratories.

Both comments should be seen as leading indicators of change. Dell’Oro said this week that it expects 400GE ports to begin shipping in 2019. The firm said that 100 GE will grow at double digit percentages through at least 2021.

Apparently, the testing firms are the first to take account of these changes. Jeff Harris, the vice president of Solutions Marketing for Ixia, said that there will be four main beneficiaries of the new 400GE technology: cloud service providers, telecommunications companies, distributed businesses and campuses.

This is not an overnight transition. Organizations must start to prepare, according to Harris:

Network equipment manufacturers need to start preparing for the 400GE evolution with testing environments capable of high-speed Ethernet. It is critical that these networks simulate real-world conditions for the applications running on them. It is equally important to leverage 400GE throughout the entire network stack: It will not matter if your Layer 2-3 infrastructure supports 400GE if Layer 1 does not.

Clearly, 2019 feels like a long way off. But a radical increase in speeds affects networks in a variety of ways. Advanced planning should start now so that nothing is left to chance later.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

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