Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Ethernet Gets Juiced

Today's networks have an Achilles heel, but it's not the one you think it is. It's not security. It's not management. And it's not availability or reliability.

It's something much simpler and much more mundane--the stuff of lightbulbs and toasters--electric power.

Routers, hubs, switches, access points, and other kinds of network devices and appliances all require electric power, which means having an AC outlet nearby, one with enough juice to power a lot of power-hungry devices.

In yesterday's network, this was not a significant problem. Networks were built in traditional offices, wiring closets were near power outlets, and all was right in the world. But in today's network, and especially in tomorrow's, that's no longer the case. Wireless access points need to be placed in locations not necessarily near power outlets. Scads of new IP devices are moving to the desktop, including IP telephones, and there simply aren't enough outlets to plug them all into. So, enterprises face sinking massive amounts of money into electrical system upgrades.

Enter Power over Ethernet (PoE). In PoE, a single Ethernet cable provides both network access and electricity. No longer is there a need to string two different cables to a device--one for power, and one for network access. Now a single cable provides both. So you can have a wiring closet with PoE-enabled switches, and you can run PoE cables from that closet to devices far and wide. Problem solved.

  • 1