Agencies show interest in switching to Gigabit Ethernet

Several networking companies expect Gigabit Ethernet to move off the test bed and onto
the backbone this year.

“Growth is in the range of 70 percent to 80 percent a quarter,” said James
Mustarde, director of marketing communications for Allied Telesyn International Corp. of
Sunnyvale, Calif. “We are getting a lot of de-mand from people who want to introduce
Gigabit on the backbone and in server farms.”

A January market forecast by Dell’Oro Group of Portola Valley, Calif., said orders
for Gigabit Ethernet switches were outpacing projections. Dell’Oro predicted the
Gigabit Ethernet market would grow from $238 million in 1998 to $2.1 billion in 2000. In
contrast, the market for asynchronous transfer mode equipment began shrinking last year.

To what extent government agencies will buy into Gigabit Ethernet and shun ATM is
debatable, however.

“They are interested in Gigabit networks, but I don’t know how much spending
they’re going to do,” said Phillip Carruthers, Allied Telesyn’s di-rector
of government sales.

“I see an ATM federal market,” said Tom Blain, product marketing manager for
Lancast Inc. of Nashua, N.H. But John Temple, Lancast’s director of government sales,
said he had not received many federal requests.

John Cordeiro, manager of northeast sales for Xylan Corp. of Calabasas, Calif., said a
government manager’s decision depends in part on what already is installed. If an
agency is at the upgrade crossroads with no installed ATM base or other commitment,
Cordeiro said, it will opt for Gigabit Ethernet 70 percent of the time.

Xylan officials said they have no axe to grind in the debate because they sell ATM as
well as Gigabit Ethernet switching equipment to the government. The Navy uses Xylan ATM
switches in its Information Technology for the 21st Century initiative.

Cordeiro said the Defense Department has made a significant investment in ATM but is
finding the administration costs high. He said the government’s network model for the
foreseeable future will be some flavor of Ethernet running over IP.

“Gigabit makes sense because the network management folks are already familiar
with Ethernet,” he said. “When you start proposing ATM, there is a whole new
realm of complexity.”  

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.


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