100GbE Switches – Have You Done The Math?

10 Gigabit Ethernet, Enterprise, Ethernet, Interconnect, OpenStack, Switches

100GbE switches – sounds futuristic? Not really, 100GbE is here and being deployed by those who do the math…
100GbE is not just about performance, it is about saving money. For many years, the storage market has been “doing the math”, $/IOPs is a very common metric to measure storage efficiency and make buying decisions. Ethernet switches are not different, when designing your network, $/GbE is the way to measure efficiency.
While enhanced performance is always better, 100GbE is also about using less components to achieve better data center efficiency, Capex & Opex. Whether a server should run 10, 25, 50 or 100GbE, this is about performance, but with switches, 100GbE simply means better Return on Investment!
Building a 100GbE switch doesn’t cost 2.5X than building a 40GbE switch. In today’s competitive market, vendors can no longer charge exorbitant prices for their switches. These days are over.
With 25GbE being adopted on more servers simply to get more out of the server you’ve already paid for, 100GbE is the way to connect switches.


Today, when people do the math, they minimize the number of links between switches by using 100GbE. When a very large POD (Performance Optimized Datacenter) is needed, sometimes we see 50GbE being used as uplink to increase spine switch fan-out and thus the number of servers connected to the same POD. In other cases, people use the fastest available, it used to be 40GbE, and today it is 100GbE.
Who are these customers who migrate to 100GbE? They are those who consider datacenter’s efficiency being highly important for the success of their business. A few examples:
Medallia recently deployed 32 x Mellanox SN2700 running Cumulus Linux – Thorvald Natvig, Medallia lead architect told us that the math is simply about more cost effectiveness, especially when the switches are deployed with zero touch and run simple L3 protocols, eliminating old fashion complications of STP and other unnecessary protocols. QoS? Needed when the pipes are insufficient, not when running 100GbE with enough bandwidth coming from each rack. Buffers? Scale? Mellanox Spectrum ASIC provides everything a Data Center needs today and tomorrow.
University of Cambridge has also done the math and has selected the Mellanox End-to-End Ethernet interconnect solution including Spectrum SN2700 Ethernet switches for its OpenStack-based scientific research cloud. Why? 100GbE is there to unleash the capabilities of the NexentaEdge Software Defined Storage solution which can easily stress a 10/40GbE network.
Enter has been running Mellanox Ethernet Switches for a few years now. 100GbE is coming soon, Enter will deploy Mellanox Spectrum SN2700 switches with Cumulus Linux because they did the math! Enter, as a cloud service providers cannot get lazy and wait for 100GbE to be everywhere before they adopt it. Waiting means losing money. In today’s competitive world, standing is like walking backwards, 100GbE is here, it works and it is priced right!
Cloudalize was about to deploy a 10/40GbE solution. After they did the math, they went directly to 100GbE with Mellanox Spectrum SN2700 running Cumulus Linux.

To summarize: if your Data Center efficiency is important for your business, it is time to do the math:
1. Check the cost of any 10/40/100GbE solution vs. Mellanox Spectrum 100GbE
Cost must include all components: cables, support, licenses (no additional licenses with Mellanox)
2. Please note that even when 10GbE on the server is enough, 100GbE uplinks still make sense
3. A break-out cables always costs less than 4 x single speed cables
4. Pay attention to hidden costs (feature licenses, extra support…)
5. What’s the price of being free with 100% standard protocols and no “vendor specific”, which is a nicer way to say “proprietary” protocols
6. In the event that 100GbE is more cost effective, it is time to view the differences between various 100GbE switch solutions in the market, the following performance analysis provides a pretty good view of the market’s available options
7. How much money do you spend on QoS vs. the alternative of throwing bandwidth on the problem?
8. $/GbE is the best way to measure network efficiency
Feel free to contact me at amitka@mellanox.com , I would be happy to help “doing the math” and compare any 10/40/100GbE solution to Mellanox Spectrum.

About Amit Katz

Amit Katz is Vice President Ethernet Switch business at Mellanox. Amit served as Senior Director of Worldwide Ethernet Switch Sales since 2014, and previously served in Product Management roles at Mellanox since 2011. Prior to that, Mr. Katz held various Product Management positions at Voltaire and at RAD Data Communications. Mr. Katz graduated from the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo with a BA of Computer Science, and MBA from Bar Ilan University.

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