Users waiting for the much hyped and much delayed Gigabit Ethernetgy. (GbE)standard before deploying the technology can finally go ahead thanks to a belated IEEE approval.
The decision will allow users to set up multivendor GbE platforms as all vendors' products comply with the standard. While Cisco and 3Com claim their GbE products are already compliant, Cabletron expects it will have to upgrade equipment at some of its older user sites.
The standard, overdue since March, was approved after a year of discussion and delay. The last three months were spent fixing an eleventh hour hitch, due to problems around the Differential Mode Delay - where adjacent multimode fibres experienced an overlap of light, causing distortion. If this problem had not been solved, some vendors felt the delay would have dragged on for several more months.
"It's about time," complained new GbE user Bob Privett, network manager of oil exploration company Western Atlas. "We've been waiting for the standard for at least six months. Ratification is a sign it's becoming a mature product."
IDC analyst Camiel Camps warned: "It is good news but the technology still has to prove itself in real networks in terms of performance and reliability."
While Camps believes GbE won't reach the mainstream like Fast Ethernet, he sees it as a backbone alternative to ATM.
ATM vendors argue, however, that fibre channel storage would make the best use of GbE. K-Net's Andrew Rowney argued that Gigabit Ethernet would not be able to cope with mixed voice, data and video traffic. "Bandwidth allocation wouldn't be possible," he said.
Meta Group analyst Jean Louis Seguineau believes the GbE market needs more than a standard to take off. "The direct switch to server Gigabit Ethernet connection won't be available until at least the second half of next year."
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