It’s Always an Exciting Time for Ethernet

By John D'Ambrosia

Technologies developed over the past several years are finding their way into the market.  10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GbE) is the next big step in server interconnect technology, as products based on optical and copper SFP+ implementations to blade servers to 10GBASE-T are being continuously introduced. Such deployments are enabled by and will drive the need for 40 Gigabit Ethernet (40 GbE) and 100 Gigabit Ethernet (100 GbE) aggregation and core solutions. These interconnect products, enabled by Data Center Bridging, will drive network convergence in the data center. 10GEPON is being successfully deployed in access networks to support bandwidth intensive applications, like IPTV or video-on-demand. Energy Efficient Ethernet is being introduced to enable energy savings in networks. POE+ is enabling a whole new range of applications such as outdoor network cameras and thin clients. And let’s not forget all of the work going on to demonstrate the interoperability of various optical modules and cables.  

2011 has also seen the launch of new efforts. The first effort is the IEEE P802.3bj 100 Gb/s Backplane and Copper Cable Task Force. The Task Force, approved in September, will be specifying 100 GbE operation across backplanes and copper cables using a 4-lane architecture. In September, the Next Generation 100 Gb/s Optical Ethernet Study Group and the Extended EPON Study Group was formed. Also, coming up in November there will a meeting between the IEEE 802.1 and IEEE 802.3 Working Groups to discuss packet transmission pre-emption, which could be used in industrial and automotive applications, among others, as well as a  “Call for Interest” on using the EPON protocol over existing coaxial distribution networks. Finally, the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Bandwidth Assessment Ad hoc has been working all year on doing an industry bandwidth assessment, in order to understand future industry bandwidth requirements.

It’s always an exciting time for Ethernet, and all of the activities described above are opportunities for the Ethernet Alliance. Some may ask, “Why does Ethernet need a marketing alliance?” I suggest that those individuals review the previous two paragraphs. Look at the diversity of the solutions described. Consider the range of applications.  The Ethernet Alliance plays a valuable role in the industry, as it helps raise industry awareness on the various Ethernet solutions and potential applications, but consider the true hallmark of Ethernet – multi-vendor interoperability. People expect Ethernet to just work when they plug it in. That is the confidence the industry has in Ethernet. This is a testament to the strength of the IEEE standards process. However, such confidence doesn’t just happen. The value that the Ethernet Alliance provides by organizing the various interoperability demonstrations for the various Ethernet technologies cannot be overstated. 

The Ethernet Alliance is also looking to support the continuing development of Ethernet. In January it will host the IEEE 802.3 Interim Meeting. For more details see Furthermore, in February 2012 it will host its next Technology Exploration Forum – “The End Users Speak!”  For more details see This event will bring together Ethernet’s users to have an open discussion on what they see as their needs for Ethernet in their networks. Facilitating discussion and industry consensus is another key activity supported by the Ethernet Alliance.

All of these efforts require individuals – volunteers – to make them happen. With that said, I would like to thank our outgoing President, Jim Theodoras of ADVA Optical Networking, for his efforts on behalf of the organization. Jim has been tireless as the Ethernet Alliance President, and no words can adequately describe his contribution. I would also like to welcome our incoming President, Scott Kipp of Brocade. Scott steps into this position of President with a wealth of experience, ideas, and energy. 

In 2012, keep your eyes open. 

John D’Ambrosia, Dell
Chair, Ethernet Alliance Board of Directors

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the individual(s) and should not be considered the views or positions of the Ethernet Alliance.