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The Survivor's Guide to 2004: Infrastructure

If you took our advice and put off purchasing 10-Gigabit last year, you'll be rewarded this year. Although 10-Gigabit is still costly, prices have come down sharply. Last year, prices typically ranged from $50,000 to $100,000 per port. This year, we've seen prices from $25,000 to $50,000 per port--in some cases, even less. And, as we anticipated, vendors have released second-generation Ethernet cards that are much more likely to have wire-speed performance.

The investment is clearly a hefty one, but it's better to bite the bullet and spend the money than to suffer the consequences of a saturated backbone. A good rule of thumb is to look for 60-Mbps spikes at five-minute intervals, then monitor in more detail during those intervals. Although all network traffic is different, users start seeing performance degradation when network utilization hits 100 percent, even for one second.

Just make sure the card you buy can handle access-control lists and QoS (Quality of Service) at wire speed--if there's an ASIC (application-specific integration circuit) involved, it very likely can, but get a written assurance from your vendor. If you don't need the card just yet, bear in mind that the longer you wait, the less expensive it will be. Time is on your side.

Cheaper Copper

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