Switch this: Multi-gigabit for the enterprise generation

With more end-users increasingly accessing data-intensive and media-rich applications via diverse mobile devices and the Internet of Things (IoT), businesses have to quickly keep in step with the latest wired and wireless connectivity.

Many enterprises have also embarked on multi-cloud IT strategies and adopted a multi-channel approach in customer engagement. This entails the use of real-time or low-latency apps that leverage technologies such as blockchain, big data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, mobile commerce, web-based video conferencing, and cloud-based software as a service. These apps demand greater performance and flexibility from the enterprise network.

Further, as mobile devices usage grows exponentially, they push an ever-increasing volume of traffic through the wired edge while new high-performance access points (APs) draw more PoE power from edge switches for advanced services.

Hence, the enterprise network access infrastructure — from access points to switches — must ensure full core-to-edge performance amid surging data traffic generated at the edge by the slew of bandwidth-hungry apps residing on smarter and more powerful devices. Al-ready, Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) are aggregating more than 1 Gbps of traffic, exceeding the traditional Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) port limit of edge switches deployed today.

Multi-gigabit switching for the network edge — including 2.5GbE, 5GbE and 10GbE options — provide speed that matches or exceeds demands of connected devices; with greater bandwidth; flexibility; and the ability for leading Wi-Fi 6 AP to transmit multiple data streams to multiple connected mobile devices simultaneously.

With Wi-Fi 5 APs, TCP throughput upwards of 1.5Gbps can be achieved so 2.5GbE at the AP and switch port fits the bill with some capacity to spare. The Wi-Fi 6 standard promises even higher throughput but its key objective is to improve wireless efficiency and allow more clients to better share available bandwidth.

Future-proofed, low-risk upgrade

For enterprises looking to beef up access bandwidth with multi-gigabit switching, CommScope acknowledges that one size definitely does not fit all. The plan is to enable upgrades to 10 GbE at the network edge without huge costs or disruption.

CommScope pairs multi-gigabit wireless/wired APs and switches without the need to replace existing cabling infrastructure. Options include access points and switches optimized for Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 with 2.5GbE connections or Wi-Fi 6 and future generations with 2.5/5/10GbE connections.

The CommScope portfolio of Ruckus multi-gigabit switches optimises the latest Wi-Fi technology, which addresses latency-sensitive, throughput-hungry applications and increasing device densities. Using the optimised wired and wireless multi-gigabit solutions, enterprises can get up to 10 GbE access capacity at the right price over existing cable plant.

For example, support for 2.5GBASE-T on both multi-gigabit APs and ICX Z-Series switches allows existing CAT 5e cabling configurations to be used. The APs and switches with 2.5/5/10 GbE ports easily double or quadruple capacity per port with Category 6 or 6A in-stalled.

Entry-level, top-end options

A top-end multi-gigabit switch makes sense for any organisation that plans to migrate to new generations of Wi-Fi, have high-density deployments, or just want something that is future-proofed for another seven to 10 years.

The Ruckus ICX 7650 Z-Series high-performance switch, for example, supports 2.5, 5 and up to 10GbE. Geared for the most demanding environments, it adds the IEEE 802.3bt 4-pair Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) technology to deliver up to 90 Watts per port and a total 1500 Watts PoE budget of the switch, along with 100GbE uplinks. At the entry level, the Ruckus ICX 7150 Z-Series affordable switch boosts access bandwidth, maxing out at 2.5 GbE and 5GbE for organisations that do not need top-end performance.

The Ruckus ICX 7650 Z-Series switch offers redundant hot-swappable power supplies and fans and are stackable with other switches in the same family. The stacked switch has only a single IP address that simplifies management. When new switches join the stack, they automatically inherit the stack’s existing configuration file, enabling a plug-and-play network expansion.

All Ruckus network solutions, including APs and switches, leverage innovative technologies such as Campus Fabric, Advanced Stacking, BeamFlex, unified management for wireless switching, IoT and LTE. Ensuring excellent throughput for the most demanding applications, the ICX switches work seamlessly with Ruckus Wi-Fi APs and SmartZone network controllers to deliver performance, flexibility, investment protection and cost-effectively.

Sik Sik Yuen, which owns and manages the iconic Wong Tai Sin temple in Southern Hong Kong, future-proofed its wireless network with built-in flexibility for future applications. Visitors currently enjoy free, secure Wi-Fi connectivity to access a self-guided tour from any mobile device via its Tao-net app.

It deployed Ruckus ICX switches, each with high-capacity backplanes, so the network’s infrastructure can scale and grow using existing equipment with continuous high-speed connectivity and stability. The switches work seamlessly with APs and network controllers to deliver 10GbE throughput and support stable data sharing, storage, and off-site backup.

Since the upgrade, “network downtime has disappeared, and the ease of management has increased exponentially,” said Sik Sik Yuen’s IT manager, Chan Ting Pong, whose team manages reliable, high-capacity Wi-Fi across the entire organisation from a single web-based dashboard. As the organisation’s needs continue to grow and evolve, the network can be customised easily to meet the temple’s growing needs, such as adding IoT along with other capabilities.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/vladimircaribb

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