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Vendors Hewlett Packard, Alcatel and S2io each announced 10 Gigabit Ethernet products Monday that are aimed squarely at enterprise data centers.

The products—stackable switches from HP and Alcatel and a 10 Gig server adapter from S2io—are the latest in a series of announcements of affordable devices in this class. Until these announcements, 10 Gig products supported mainly switch-to-switch connections for large enterprise, campus and carrier networks.

The announcement of so many enterprise switches of this type, along with PCI-X adapters that will be used in HP servers, is expected to jump-start enterprise use of high-bandwidth communications.

S2io’s 10 Gigabit Ethernet adapter will be sold by HP under an OEM contract to buyers of HP 9000 and HP Integrity Itanium servers. Pricing for these adapters has not been announced. This is the first such adoption by a major server vendor.

“HP is making a pretty strong statement,” said Dave Zabrowski, president and CEO of S2io. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company reached a similar agreement with Sun Microsystems in August. But HP’s major role in the enterprise data center opens up 10 Gig networking to enterprise users in much smaller organizations than could use the products previously.

Further opening up the market were announcements Monday from Alcatel with the OmniSwitch 6800, which features 10 Gigabit Ethernet uplinks, and the HP ProCurve 6400cl series of 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches. The ProCurve switches feature a choice of fiber or copper interfaces.

Last week, Cisco announced integrated 10 Gigabit uplinks for its 4500 and 6500 Catalyst switches. Foundry announced a series of stackable 10 Gigabit switches in November.

Read more here about the new switches from Foundry.

The S2io adapter is designed to work in servers with PCI-X expansion slots running at 133 MHz. While these adapters will work at the required 10 gigabit per second data rate, their true throughput will be slightly under eight gigabits per second due to limitations of that bus.

According to Zabrowski, newer versions of the adapter are planned for PCI-X version 2.0 and for PCI Express, both of which will support the full 10 gigabit per second throughput.

The new 10 Gigabit Ethernet products are aimed at both port aggregation and clustering. Tony Asaro, senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass., said the initial use for most will be primarily in clustering. “The proliferation of clustering technology using standards-based communications is critical to having it be widespread throughout the enterprise,” Asaro said.

He said the announcement of so many products means that enterprises will start adopting 10 Gigabit Ethernet right away. He said he expects to see it move to midsized enterprises eventually.

Aiding the spread to the enterprise is S2io’s support for most major operating systems, including Windows, Linux, Solaris and AIX, among others. “I think this has far-reaching implications,” Asaro said. “HP is a significant vendor, and this is a sign that this market has turned the corner.”

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