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10 steps to iSeries Gigabit Ethernet nirvana

Here's a step-by-step plan for how to convert your iSeries network over to Gigabit Ethernet.

This tip is an excerpt of the article "Revisiting Gigabit Ethernet in the iSeries arena: now more than ever" published in the March/April 2002 edition (volume 5, number 2) of the iSeries 400 Experts Journal. Provided courtesy of The 400 Group.

Other than the pure rush that comes from having a point-to-point Gigabit Ethernet connection between your PC and your iSeries and seeing how fast "fast" really is, experience has shown me that there is usually an orderly progression to implementing Gigabit Ethernet in an iSeries environment because, after all, most iSeries networks can't be upgraded to Gigabit Ethernet all at once. There's that pesky problem of users and their demands for application access. Here's a step-by-step plan for how to convert your iSeries network over to Gigabit Ethernet.

Step 1: Diagram your existing iSeries network. I know, you've been meaning to do that or perhaps you think your network is documented. Review the documentation because things have a nasty habit of changing.

Step 2: Run a network performance-monitoring tool and gather some performance reports about the current state of your iSeries network. Look for obvious bottlenecks as well as under-utilized network segments and switches, routers or bridges. The reasons to look for under-utilized segments are two-fold: (a) you can invest in those segments later; and (b) you can leverage that segment or segments to aggregate with other network segments to help balance overall iSeries network load.

Step 3: Look for places where you can use Gigabit Ethernet to aggregate backbone traffic -- that's the best and most obvious use for Gigabit (and the new 10 Gigabit) Ethernet.

Step 4: Determine which servers are good candidates for Gigabit Ethernet. Determine if the server in question should have one or more than one Gigabit Ethernet card. Your performance reports from Step 2 will help you in this analysis.

Step 5: Make a short list of which desktop PCs require (as opposed to PCs whose users want to have) Gigabit Ethernet.

Step 6: Plan on using switches (instead of bridges or routers) to switch/route traffic at the network backbone.

Step 7: Work out your budget and price-shop for your NICs and other network gear. Prices on Gigabit Ethernet cards have fallen over the last year. You also can cover your Ethernet upgrade bets by buying NICs that can accommodate 10, 100 and 1,000 Mbps Ethernet.

Step 8: Develop a detailed, step-by-step project plan for how you will implement your new Gigabit Ethernet iSeries network. Do one network segment at a time and do the conversion at night or on weekends.

Step 9: Test, test and re-test each segment after you implement the Gigbit Ethernet configuration. (You know, those pesky users again.)

Step 10: Update your network documentation to relect your new iSeries Gigabit Ethernet network.

About the author: Kris Neely is a senior consulting IT architect and technology relationship manager for IBM. An award-winning speaker at COMMON and other industry events worldwide, Kris has also written several books and hundreds of articles on iSeries and general IT computing.


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