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Four things to consider before upgrading your data center net to 25G

Kevin Deierling, VP of Marketing, Mellanox | Aug. 11, 2016
25G is backward compatible, jacks up performance and improves the efficiency of every workload

3.     Is there a significant cost to upgrade to 25G?

Fortunately, even though they provide 2.5X more bandwidth, 25Gbps NICs and switches are not significantly more expensive than 10Gbps Ethernet solutions. Furthermore, they are fully backwards compatible and will auto-negotiate down to a slower rate when connected to 10Gbps equipment. This means that you don’t need to do a wholesale forklift upgrade to your data center. Instead, you can upgrade your data center network as part of a regular refresh cycle and still future proof your network with 25G capabilities.

So, if you need more switching ports you can simply secure 25G capable switches. Similarly, as new servers are brought on line, these can be equipped with 25G Ethernet adapters. Those parts of your network that are still running at 10Gbps won’t get the benefit of the faster 25Gbps capabilities, but there is no penalty and your network is future proofed. As more and more of the server, storage and switching infrastructure converts to 25G you will be able to recognize the performance and efficiency benefits of the faster network speeds. So, for just a small incremental cost, you can be ready for 25G and begin seeing the benefits of better compute and storage efficiency in your data center today.

4.     Is my cable plant ready for 25G, 50G & 100G Ethernet?

One of the biggest costs and risks for any data center is installing cabling fiber plant. This often involves lifting up the floor panels or running cable in overhead channels. Not only is this labor intensive, but also extremely disruptive to data center operations and carries with it the potential for confusion and errors. For most data center operators the preference is to install fiber cabling just once and then leave it.

Fortunately, most 10Gbps data centers use Small Form Factor (SFP) optical transceivers and multimode or single mode fiber. For those considering a 25G upgrade, the good news is the fiber that has already been installed in the data center will work in the vast majority of cases. Single mode fiber (typically yellow) is the most flexible and supports distances of up to 2 kilometers or more. However, even if you have installed multimode fiber (typically orange) you should still be fine unless you are running distances of greater than 100 meters. This, however, is unusual for most deployments.

So, there is a high probability that you can reuse all of your existing fiber plant. You will only need to upgrade the optical transceivers and copper cables to support the faster 25Gbps speeds. Fortunately, the upgrade from 10G to 25G (or from 40G to 100G) avoids tearing out and laying new fiber, which is typically the most expensive, time consuming and the error-prone part of an upgrade.


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