10-Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) is already well established in the enterprise space, but there are several barriers to its adoption by smaller businesses — not least of which is the eye-watering cost of current 10GbE infrastructure. Netgear recently announced a range of three low-cost 10GBase-T (the copper-cabled standard) switches, including the 8-port ProSAFE Plus XS708E, which is one of the first entry-level switches aimed specifically at SMEs. At around £675 ($1,025), the XS708E represents a significant drop in cost-per-port for 10GbE switching.
One of the key problems with 10GBase-T devices to date has been their excessive power consumption compared to fibre-based products, but Netgear states that the new models are more power-frugal. The new 24-port XSM7224 enterprise switch, for example, has a maximum power consumption of 200W. The advantage of 10GBase-T is its compatibility with existing Cat 5e, 6a or 7 cabling, and backwards compatibility with 10/100/1000Mbps connections.
Netgear describes the 8-port XS708E as 'lightly managed', making it intermediate between fully-managed and smart switches. Configuration is via a dedicated software utility, rather than web-based, and covers a subset of essential Layer 2 features such as VLAN and QoS settings.
The XS708E also includes a single combo SFP+ port that can take a 10G fibre module if needed. Netgear claims that it's now the only vendor with 10GBase-T devices suitable for all sizes of business.
The other new 10GBase-T products in the ProSAFE range are the ProSAFE Plus XS712T 12-port Smart Switch (around $2,000), and the fully-managed XSM7224 24-port device (around $6,000) mentioned above.
With the increasing prevalence of 10GbE adapters in modern SME servers, it's only a matter of time before the ever-increasing demands on bandwidth make the move to 10GbE inevitable. These new products, while still relatively expensive compared to GbE infrastructure, represent an important first step in reducing the barriers to entry.
All the new 10GBase-T switches are available immediately from Netgear resellers.