Token ring left in Ethernet's dust

Token ring left in Ethernet's dust

A handful of industry heavyweights will gather at next month's Networld+Interop '98 show in the US to demonstrate high-speed token ring technology.

The question is: does anybody care anymore? Certainly not the masses, if an IDC survey of 200 token ring users is any indication.

First introduced in the mid-1980s, token ring LANs let many users share either 4Mbps or 16Mbps of bandwidth. The LAN technology took root quickly because it was heavily backed by IBM. But shared token ring's speed hasn't increased, and the development of Ethernet switching -- which provides much faster "personal" bandwidth -- has outstripped it.

So it is no surprise that about half the survey respondents said higher-speed token ring would have no effect on their buying plans.

And more than 60 per cent said they are phasing out token ring as their backbone network in favour of Ethernet, ATM or Fiber Distributed Data Interface (FDDI).

Users say they are moving to Ethernet technologies because they are cheaper than token ring, provide a popular migration path to higher speeds and have been the primary development focus of most networking vendors since the early 1990s.

In hope of breathing life into the 16Mbps token ring technology, a group of vendors, including IBM, formed the High-Speed token ring alliance last September. They began work on a standard for running token ring at 100Mbps, which could be ready by year's end.

"It's too little, too late," said Dennis Mitchell, vice president of trading services at Bank of America. "All our future purchases will be Ethernet."

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