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More and more companies and organizations are seeing the benefits of pooling and sharing storage and information servers. Business applications that rely on these servers can be designed to be more scalable and more resilient to the ups and downs of traffic patterns. The standardization and commoditization of server hardware means that organizations involved in graphics, multimedia, medical imaging and any other data intensive applications can implement advanced data center architectures that were once only available to publicly funded academic research and military institutions. The proliferation of multimedia applications combining images, video and sound means that file sizes greater than 50 Mbytes are not uncommon. Users expect pictures to appear instantaneously; only Gigabit Ethernet can guarantee this level of response time. But the growing deployment of high speed PCs and workstations is placing an extra strain on the network infrastructure. While existing Ethernet switches with Gigabit uplinks are fine for connecting a few PCs and laptops equipped with 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet, they are not appropriate for use in a company deploying Gigabit-capable PCs, workstations and servers. For these environments a high performance Gigabit Ethernet switch with a 10 Gigabit uplink capability is absolutely necessary to give the required levels of control, network performance, security and reliability.

Solutions Description

SOLUTION Modern Gigabit Ethernet switches can provide the required levels of control, network performance, security and reliability using standard techniques such as VLANs, Port Trunking, security, prioritization and filtering backed up with comprehensive SNMP network management. * VLANs To cut down on the amount of broadcast traffic you can create Virtual LANs which operate as separate broadcast domains. This means that members of a VLAN can only talk directly to other members of the VLAN. If members of different VLANs need to communicate, then a router or Layer 3 switch is required. Management of VLANs can be simplified by using the recent GVRP and IEEE 802.1s/v protocols which provide dynamic VLAN registration and per-VLAN spanning tree protocol support. * Port Trunking When large numbers of end-users need to access shared resources such as file servers or database storage, the connection to the server or storage device can become a bottleneck. The solution is to use Port Trunking or Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP) to bundle multiple connections and use the combined bandwidth as if it were a single fat pipe. * 10 Gigabit uplinks As the price of the latest 10 Gigabit components inevitably drops, most file servers and data storages devices will start to support 10 Gigabit trunks. This will allow even more Gigabit capable PCs and workstations to connect at full speed. The Gigabit Ethernet switches can use 10 Gigabit uplinks to connect directly to storage devices and servers and also to build a 10 Gbps network backbone running between the main switches in the network. * Traffic prioritization, rate limiting & filtering Gigabit Ethernet allows you to support more end-users and more data intensive applications. But the traffic that they each generate does not have the same characteristics. For instance, Voice over IP traffic (VoIP) is not heavy volume but must be delivered fast and predictably to prevent break-up of the voice patterns. File transfer is the exact opposite: it generates high data volumes but the speed of delivery of the traffic is not critical. Video streaming is both high volume and time sensitive so must be delivered at the right rate to prevent the pictures displayed from breaking up. For these reasons, the switching devices must be able to recognize different traffic types and give each the appropriate Quality of Service required.

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