Networking

New technologies are changing the structure of many networks

Corporate networks are getting faster, and the demand for an always-connected atmosphere appears to be growing, according to a recent NetAdmin survey. Here's a look at which networking technologies are currently in use across the enterprise.


Corporate IT departments are notoriously slow to adopt new technologies—for both financial and technical reasons. However, most IT departments also spend a lot of time, energy, and corporate resources in making sure their underlying network infrastructure is reliable and well-performing.

As a recent NetAdmin survey revealed, this means that administrators are often willing to implement newer networking technologies (such as Gigabit Ethernet and wireless LANs) more rapidly than they would deploy new versions of software and hardware. In our survey, we asked TechRepublic members about the kinds of networking technologies that are currently in use in their respective companies. The results show newer technologies making rapid progress, 100Base-TX maintaining its prominent role, and legacy technologies making a steep descent in use.

New networking technologies
Gigabit Ethernet and wireless LANs have been widely available for a couple of years, but they remain two of the newer networking technologies available. Our survey shows that Gigabit Ethernet (Figure A) is becoming a major player on many networks, while wireless LANs (Figure B) are moving toward critical mass.

Figure A
1000Base-TX Gigabit Ethernet


Figure B
Wireless LANs


100Base-TX as the gold standard
TechRepublic members also reported that 100Base-TX has become the standard networking technology in use on most networks, as 92 percent of respondents reported that they use it (Figure C).

Figure C
100Base-TX Fast Ethernet


Meanwhile, the former networking standard—10Base-T—may have taken a backseat to 100Base-TX, but it still enjoys widespread use (Figure D). This is probably facilitated by the fact that much of the 100Base-TX hardware is also backward compatible with 10Base-T. In addition, some printers and other network-enabled devices contain adapters that still support only 10Base-T.

Figure D
10Base-T Ethernet


Don't forget fiber
Another networking technology that has been around for a while is fiber optics. This expensive technology is used mostly for connecting buildings—or for connecting offices in the same building that are separated by several floors. Although Gigabit Ethernet can do some of the same things as fiber and is starting to infringe on parts of fiber's territory, our survey shows that fiber has earned a solid spot in many networks (Figure E).

Figure E
Fiber-optic networking


Other types of networking
We also asked TechRepublic members if they were using other networking technologies (such as legacy coax solutions and nonstandard networking options like phone line and power line networking). About a third of respondents reported that their networks include other technologies that fall into this catchall category (Figure F).

Figure F
Other networking options


Final word
As this survey shows, the need for speed is apparent, as many companies are putting fiber and Gigabit Ethernet to use and making 100Base-TX the standard for the average connection. The rising popularity of WLANs also shows the desire to extend the power of the network to new places and promote an always-connected atmosphere within the enterprise.

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