The Gigabit Ethernet standard was only approved late last month, but already some resellers are turning a buck from the fledgling technology.
Integrator Finalysis is working with Sydney Adventist Hospital to piece together one of the first networks in Australia, incorporating Gigabit Ethernet. The decision by the hospital to pioneer Gigabit Ethernet is even more interesting because it will replace ATM.
According to Russel Duncan, the hospital's information systems man-ager, and Doug Fulford, managing director of Finalysis, Gigabit Ethernet was chosen for its simplicity and price point.
"The hospital operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and if something goes wrong, ATM is quite difficult to reconfigure," Fulford said. "With Gigabit Ethernet you just plug it in and it works. The hospital doesn't need the same calibre of people on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week as a result."
That was also a big selling point for Duncan.
"Because Gigabit Ethernet is a lot simpler to maintain, it doesn't cost as much in terms of the people needed to keep the network running," he said.
"That's a big saving."
The up-front cost was also cheaper. If the hospital was to upgrade its Bay System 5000BH switches with 622Mbps ATM modules, it would cost twice as much as the Bay Accelar "routing switch" that the hospital is using, Duncan said.
The Gigabit Ethernet technology is initially being used to connect the hospital's main computer room and its disaster recovery centre. Servers are attached directly to the switch so that they can be clustered across the network. Two of the high-powered servers are connected via Gigabit connections.
The hospital is preparing "for the hole it's in danger of digging itself", as it introduces a number of intensive NT applications. The first, a patient booking system based on Microsoft SQL server, is intended to go live in the next couple of weeks.
While ATM has previously been considered to be networking nirvana, both Duncan and Fulford believe Gigabit Ethernet will be a better alternative for most organisations.
According to Fulford: "most of what ATM has promised, Gigabit Ethernet can deliver but at a lower unit cost."
"I suppose the only thing that the jury is still out on is voice and video. But my own belief is that Gigabit Ethernet has more than enough bandwidth and solutions will come, because the market demands it".
Sydney Adventist Hospital is in the final stages of testing its Gigabit solution before it goes live.
"But so far everything is humming along nicely," said Duncan.