Is 10GbE ready for the small office?

But the prices of network adapters have been dropping as well, Walsh says, so the premium is less than it used to be: "If you buy a quad port 1Gb NIC you pay $500 (£330); you can get a 10Gb card for $700 (£460)."

Depending on your setup, you may be able to use existing cables. For distances under 45m you can use Cat5e cables, although if you want 55m and over, you need Cat6.

Price and power

Walsh points out that pushes up the price: "Instead of $3 a cable you're spending $12 and if you're buying a hundred cables, it adds up." But for server consolidation, 45-50m will be enough for smaller server rooms; and the power savings from running fewer servers and switches could be enough to make the capital investment worthwhile.

A server setup affects how much a 10Gb infrastructure will cost in other ways, Walsh explains.

"If you have a blade configuration, the switching coming out of the blade server can already do the translation from 10Gb to 1Gb; with blade servers it's actually cheaper to deploy 10Gb than 1Gb. With rack servers, 10Gb is still more expensive than 1Gb, but I expect that to change by end of this year."

He believes that when Intel ships Ivy Bridge CPUs for servers later this year, there will be more demand for 10GbE as part of general server upgrades. "It's another generation of improvements, you're going from 40nm to 28nm and power consumption is dropping significantly."

Netgear has already reduced the power consumption of 10GbE copper switches to be comparable with fibre at under 200W. The new range could also help with the complexity of 10Gb networking.

Going from an unmanaged to a managed network is usually expensive and requires knowledge of networking. But the company says the 'lightly managed' ProSAFE Plus offers smaller businesses some control without the cost and complexity.

Options such as this could help small businesses take advantage of 10GbE without a big increase in costs.


Mary (Twitter, Google+, website) started her career at Future Publishing, saw the AOL meltdown first hand the first time around when she ran the AOL UK computing channel, and she's been a freelance tech writer for over a decade. She's used every version of Windows and Office released, and every smartphone too, but she's still looking for the perfect tablet. Yes, she really does have USB earrings.