By: Rick Freedman, Sr. Manager, ICX Product Marketing

Working for a technology vendor, we’re always writing about and selling the very latest technologies. “New” is, after all, exciting! As a consumer though, I’m more cautious and usually wait until technologies mature and prices come down. I won’t be tempted to buy a 4K TV, for example, until the majority of content is 4K and the prices are comparable to today’s HDTVs. I say I’m pragmatic. My wife says I’m an old fogey.

So who’s right? In reality, there’s no right answer here—it’s all about priorities. If like me, you just want the best bang for your buck right now, 4K can wait. If, however, you have a hard drive with a Terabyte of beautiful 4K video, or you only buy a new TV once per decade, it may make sense to spend more upfront.

Why am I telling you all this? Because the market for 4K TVs is a lot like the market for multi-gigabit switches. If you’re looking to beef up your access bandwidth, the question isn’t whether high-end multi-gigabit switching is objectively “worth it.” It’s about what matters most to your organisation.

Expanding Multi-Gigabit Technology… at a Price

Let’s pause for a second to review: Multi-gigabit arose to accommodate the latest Wi-Fi standards that are capable of aggregating more than 1 Gbps of traffic—exceeding the 1G port limit of most edge switches deployed today. The IEEE ratified the 802.3bz standard last year, and vendors have rushed to crank out switches with multi-gigabit ports. Listen to those vendors, and you’ll hear dire warnings about the avalanche of access traffic coming your way and the urgent need to future-proof your infrastructure.

However, like those shiny 4K TVs playing plain old HD content, dig a little deeper and you’ll find that most people aren’t actually using that extra capacity yet.

Most of the multi-gigabit switches now on the market are, in some ways, luxury items. These vendors offer combined 2.5/5/10GbE ports—but only on their top-of-the-line switches. They’re targeting early adopters willing to pay a premium for the latest and greatest tech. That’s a sound choice for some organisations, but do you really “need” that capacity right now? Maybe, maybe not. According to the Dell’Oro Group, while the market for multi-gigabit ports is growing, it will remain a small portion of the total access market for several years.

At Ruckus, we know that one size definitely does not fit all. So we took a different approach.

Top-End Multi-Gigabit Switching, for Less than the Competition

If your organisation really does need top-tier performance—if you’re planning to migrate to new generations of Wi-Fi (such as 802.11ax and beyond), have a very high-density deployment or just want something that you won’t have to touch for another 7-10 years—it makes sense to go big. In that case, Ruckus is very excited to introduce the ICX 7650 Z-Series, our new high-performance switch designed for the most demanding edge and aggregation requirements.

The ICX 7650 packs the full multi-gigabit punch, supporting 2.5, 5 and up to 10 GbE. It adds the latest power-over-Ethernet (PoE) technology (the IEEE 802.3bt standard, pending ratification) to deliver up to 90 Watts per port and a total PoE budget of 1500 Watts, along with 100 GbE uplinks. Drop it into the densest, most demanding environments and rest easy—it will take on whichever new devices you and your end-users throw at it for the foreseeable future.

All the Multi-Gigabit Performance You Need, at an Affordable Price

But what if you’re in the other camp? You want to boost your access bandwidth, but you don’t need top-end speeds, and you’re looking for the best value for your money right now We’ve got you covered there too. Ruckus is the only vendor to offer multi-gigabit ports in an affordable, entry-level switch: the ICX 7150 Z-Series. These switches don’t have quite as much headroom as top-end multi-gigabit switches, maxing out at 2.5 GbE. But access points that exceed 2.5 GbE aren’t even on the market yet. So for the near- and mid-term, you can get ample multi-gigabit speeds at less than half the cost of the competition.

The Industry’s Only One-Two Punch for Multi-Gigabit Connectivity

You won’t find these multi-gigabit options from any other vendor. If you want a high-end switch that can get you to 5 or 10 Gbps connectivity, with advanced features and manageability that outperforms the competition (at a better price), the ICX 7650 delivers. But if you’re more focused on getting great value for your money today—while still more than doubling the capacity of current 1G ports—the ICX 7150 can’t be beaten.

Which way should you go? I can only speak for myself. Like with 4K TVs, I may not be ready now, but other people are. There is a ready and growing market for the latest and greatest TV technology, just as there are organisations that genuinely need and will use high-end multi-gigabit capacity.

Here’s what I do know: no matter where you live on the spectrum between value-focused and early adopter, there’s a Ruckus multi-gigabit switch that’s the perfect choice for your organisation.

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