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To understand Ethernet's value, consider what would happen if it were gone

By Donna Donnawitz
October 5, 2012
What would the networking industry look like if Ethernet had not established itself as a dominant protocol? That is a question posed by a recent Network World report, and a number of experts have weighed in on what they think contemporary networks would look like if Ethernet was not around.

Network formatting issues
The news source explained that if we didn't have Ethernet, we would be looking at emerging technology trends such as fiber channel-over-token ring, industrial ATM networks, token bus in the first mile and other complicated and inefficient solutions.

DC analyst Rohit Mehra told the news source that without Ethernet, networks would be much more difficult to establish in a standardized manner.

"Standards, consistency, simplicity, scale and innovation would have suffered," Mehra told Network World. "If there was no consistency, networking would be even more complex than it is today."

Jon Oltsik, principal analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, explained that without Ethernet, we would not be looking at the IP-enabled computing revolution that is changing the way businesses function. IP functionality would have eventually become a reality without Ethernet, but it would only have happened after a much longer time spent dealing with proprietary networks, according to the report.

Reliability issues
Ethernet also enables a much more reliable network. Zeus Kerravala of ZK Research told the news source that Ethernet has enabled a simpler network that is more resilient than with many competing protocols.

"[A network built without Ethernet] would be more complicated, less reliable and slower," Kerravala told Network World. "There'd be more outages, and perhaps our expectations on service levels would be lower."

Ethernet in new settings
The rise of Ethernet has changed how operators approach the network in many environments. You can see this fairly clearly if you look closely at industrial network systems. These highly specialized solutions are generally built around serial connections that provide extremely reliable communications without any packet loss or latency. This is necessary in automation and control infrastructure, among other industrial locations.

The issue with these tightly controlled systems is that they are expensive. As more manufacturers began using Ethernet for data, they quickly realized that with a few strategic investments they could use it for everything. This is leading to more Ethernet deployment in industrial networks, making serial to Ethernet technologies a vital consideration for businesses in the sector.

Perle’s serial to Ethernet converters connect serial based equipment across an Ethernet network. The Perle IOLAN range of Console Servers, Device Servers and Terminal Servers feature built-in support for IPv6 along with a broad range of authentication methods and encryption technologies.


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