Demystifying Technologies Of Network Architecture

Updated: Apr 28 2004, 05:30am hrs
The new network architecture is here. From the enterprises to the educational institutes, the need for fast and wireless access of information is changing the whole network architecture. The next generation of networking technologies is here: Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) which can provide data speed of 10 GB and above, and wireless networks are the two building blocks that companies will rely on to enhance productivity, lower costs and improve connectivity.

In case of GbE, the entreprises have already started using 10 GB ethernet switches at the back-end with one GB at the desktop level. Described in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.3ab standard, GbE is available now. Also named 1000 Base-T, this new networking technology is ten times faster than 100Base-T Ethernet or populary known as Fast Ethernet. It is backward-compatible with 10Base-T (ethernet) and 100Base-T (fast ethernet) networks.

Also available, although still fairly expensive, is 10GbE, as specified in the IEEE 802.3ae standard. Currently designed primarily for trunking (between offices, for example) applications, 10GbE switches and other devices are on the market, allowing companies to create end-to-end ethernet networks at lower acquisition and support costs than previous technologies permitted.

These technologies offer more than just new functionality; they offer solutions to performance bottlenecks that hamper high-end business applications. When placed in the context of planning for the enterprise future business growth and development, GbE implementation becomes a critical part of the future infrastructure for any business that plans to be competitive, especially in light of the simplicity of deploying GbE in the current networking enterprise.

In Wireless domain, not long ago it is Radio frequency (RF) and VSAT technologies were used for wireless connectivity. Now there is another technology, it is Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) based on different standards set by Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineer (IEEI). The standards are 802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g.

802.11 is the IEEE specifications that address wireless networking. The IEEE approved two enhancements to the original 802.11 standard in 1999, 802.11a and 802.11b. 802.11b occupies the same 2.4GHz radio frequency as the original 802.11 specification, extending raw data rates up to 11Mbps.

Like 802.11a, 802.11g is nearly five times faster than 802.11b. Its advantage is that it is fully backward compatible with 802.11b, making it the logical successor to that protocol. In India, indoor deployment of 802.11g is permitted but not outdoor implementation. So integrators are offering a solution where inside the building 802.11g will be the standard and between the two buildings in the same campus it is 802.11b.

Lastly the networking technology has also moved towards dual band option. This will help mobile devices to work across different standards. For the enterprise, dual-band is a compelling option when architecting the network. Client devices such as laptops can automatically select 802.11g or 802.11a, depending on traffic and usage patterns.

The writer is director of Epitom Networks Ltd, a Kolkata-based network integration company.