100Gbit Ethernet to outsell OC-768 by 2012

Computer networking standard encroaches on telecoms arena

“One of the biggest misconceptions about 40 and 100Gbit is that it will be dominated by telecom carriers,” said David Gross, author of the report entitled 40 and 100 Gigabit Networks: Technologies, Markets, Applications. “Over 70 per cent of all 40/100Gbit data revenue through 2013 will come from corporations, governments, and research labs, not telcos. Therefore, it won't take long for 100Gbit Ethernet to roll past OC-768.”

Nonetheless, OC-768 will still be bought by ILECs and PTTs, who will continue to need packet-over-SONET/SDH router ports to aggregate lower-rate OC-n, STM, and T3/E3 circuits. ILECs and PTTs still operate more than 50,000 metro SONET/SDH rings, and cannot easily squeeze that traffic onto Ethernet frames. While OC-768 router ports will remain expensive, it would be even more expensive to engineer a SONET over Ethernet network. 

Therefore, carriers will keep buying 40Gbit router ports well into the next decade, although in lower volumes than corporations and governments will buy 100Gbit Ethernet ports. Where ILECs and PTTs do choose Ethernet links, it will continue to be for their corporate customers' private lines, over dedicated wavelengths, and at 40Gbit and below.

As the market will splinter fairly quickly, component and system vendors who design products for specific topologies will fare better than those who strain to serve different needs equally.

The same report suggests that government labs, universities, and financial traders will buy 40% of all 40 and 100Gbit data ports in the years to 2013. Banks and brokerages will want the technology to cut microseconds from their transaction times for buy and sell orders. Government and academic researchers will want it to move data in and out of multi-petabyte databases stored on nearby LANs and SANs.

“The 40 and 100Gbit market is much like the router market of the early 90s, in that it is poised to grow at double digit rates in spite of a weak economy,” said Gross. “However, just as many vendors back then never foresaw the extent to which routers would be deployed in public networks, many suppliers today are overlooking the extent to which 100 Gigabit Ethernet will stimulate demand for applications that are hard to imagine today.”

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