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More Power in Your Future?

The number of Ethernet switches that small and medium businesses have deployed continues to increase, due in large part to growing acceptance of Gigabit Ethernet and the new Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) standard, according to a report from DellOro Group.The switching market continues to exemplify steady growth revenue of $4.8 billion, up 12% from the third quarter 2006 and the seventeenth consecutive quarter in a row demonstrating year or year growth. Faster speeds were a primary driver of the increase: Gigabit Ethernet ports increased almost 80 percent when compared to the same quarter in 2006. As companies deploy faster desktop systems, they need more bandwidth to support complex transmissions, such as video and voice.

PoE was designed to address some of the electrical requirements for devices, such as VoIP phones and network cameras. The IEEE 802.3af standard integrates power into a standard LAN infrastructure so it can be delivered to these devices. The specification eliminates the need for power outlets to support these devices and enables easier application of uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) to ensure 24 hours a day, 7 days a week operation. This standard has been in development since 2003 and compliant products now make up 20% of the total Ethernet shipments, an impressive number. Cisco and Nortel, leaders in sales of IP Phones, have also been forging ahead in the PoE sector of the Ethernet switch market.

Another hot area is smart, Web based managed switches. These products feature some integrated, easyto-use management features in their base configuration. One reason why they have been moving is the pricing difference between them and unmanaged ports has been falling.
The report represents good news for small and medium businesses. They can now find low cost, high function switches capable of supporting sophisticated applications. As a result, it becomes more likely that they can justify the roll out of applications, such as call centers and multimedia applications.

Has your company upgraded to Gigabit Ethernet yet? What drove the need for the additional speed? How much interest do you have in PoE functions?