The InfoWorld Test Center's 10-Gig switch-off
High-end networking gear from Hewlett-Packard and Extreme Networks prove their enterprise worth in a grueling gauntlet challengeFollow @infoworld
Two years ago, 10 Gig meant screaming along the bleeding edge with your hair on fire. The speed was there, but achieving it was a black art requiring network performance knowledge, driver tweaking, and OS tuning.
Rumor has it this is no longer the case; 10 Gig has grown up with enough reliability and manageability to make it a good citizen in any enterprise datacenter.
This evolution is a boon to growing enterprise datacenters — and not just those with more than 10,000 users. Advanced storage networking is a key application for 10GbE, tantalizing to enterprises of any size. Moveover, the increasing reliance on rich streaming media, such as video and voice, is pushing the demand for 10GbE into the mainstream.
To find out just how enterprise-ready 10GbE has become, we invited eight vendors to participate in our latest 10-Gig shootout at the Advanced Network Computing Lab (ANCL) at the University of Hawaii School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology.
Of the eight, three agreed to participate: Cisco, Extreme Networks, and Hewlett-Packard. We worked with all three vendors for several months prior to the test, gathering data for two test suites. The first was a primary baseline set of tests that all the vendors had to complete, including a triple-play test assessing video, voice, and data transfer speeds. We also offered an optional suite where vendors could run additional tests that we provided or design tests in conjunction with our lab staff to showcase unique features.
Critical to our test was gear provided by Spirent, including the TestCenter 5000A, the company’s next-generation core network testing tool, and the Abacus, a VoIP traffic emulator and quality quantifier.
Everything was copasetic until three days before Cisco was to show up — which is when company reps decided to call and cancel, instantly awarding themselves the Super Weenie trophy for this test. Frankly, however, InfoWorld has never had luck getting Cisco to participate in directly comparative reviews.
Even with Cisco slinking away at the last second, clear trends emerged in our examination of the Extreme and HP solutions. Until even just a year or so ago, managing voice and video over your production data network remained a black art. Although QoS was a mature technology, managing multiple queues over a wide, distributed network still left a lot of room for error and expertise. The new management suites we encountered in this round of 10-Gig competitors, however, have taken triple-play management and have made it workable for mere mortals. Using today’s 10-Gig solutions means you no longer need to be afraid of running voice across your data network.
Extreme BlackDiamond 10808 and 8810
We’ve tested various switching solutions from Extreme Networks in our 10 years at ANCL, and we’ve basically watched the company evolve from a bleeding-edge startup to one of the most reliable manufacturers of truly high-speed switching infrastructure.