Reading the Tea Leaves on 40G Network Migrations

I recently moderated a Light Reading Webinar on the network migration from 10G to 40G transport, entitled "Making 40-Gig Transport a Reality." During the Webinar, we asked our audience two poll questions, which yielded some interesting results. I'll share them here.

The first question we asked our audience was: What will be the major applications for 40G transport?

We had 154 responses to this question (a mix of all types of companies, from vendors to service providers). The audience responses broke out as follows:

  • 40G IP router connectivity: 38 percent
  • Fiber capacity relief: 29 percent
  • 40G Ethernet transport (e.g., server to switch): 20 percent
  • 40G managed wavelength services: 13 percent

Router interconnect was the initial driver for 40G transport, so it is not surprising that this garnered the top score in our poll. The poll does indicate that 40G IP router interconnect is not the sole driver for 40G deployments, and that applications other than router interconnect account for the majority of the demand (62 percent, in the poll).

40G Ethernet was a surprise: We (the Webinar speakers and I) had not expected 40G Ethernet to rate so highly as a driver. It has been a controversial interface that almost didn't exist. Many in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) wanted another 10x migration in Ethernet technology, from 10G to 100G, and felt that the 4x stepping stone would prove a costly distraction for the industry. Our survey results indicate that 40G Ethernet may have some merit.

Our second poll question dealt with the migration to 100G transport, as it's very difficult to talk about 40G today without also talking about 100G. Our question specifically was: When will 100G deployments overtake 40G deployments?

We had 174 responses to this one, with breakouts as follows:

  • 2011: 13 percent
  • 2012: 27 percent
  • 2013: 20 percent
  • 2014: 18 percent
  • 2015 or later: 22 percent

The surprise here is the aggressiveness of the anticipated move to 100G. The greatest number picked 2012 as the year (27 percent) not simply for mass deployments of 100G interfaces, but for it actually overtaking 40G. Some of our audience (13 percent) believe 100G will overtake 40G even sooner, even though the standard is not expected until 2010 at the earliest.

In any case, the drive for higher transport speeds, whether it's 40G or 100G, is real and immediate.

— Sterling Perrin, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading

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