Five Minutes With Chauncey Schwartz II

By Ethernet Alliance

The 2012 Chairperson of the Ethernet Alliance’s Marketing Committee, Chauncey Schwartz II, has enjoyed a successful career in sales, marketing, and business management for more than 25 years. Last year he was actively involved in the Ethernet Alliance’s Ethernet in the Data Center Subcommittee. While putting together webinars and other events for the subcommittee, Chauncey saw a need for the Ethernet Alliance to create a clear set of metrics and processes. He decided to step up and use his skills and experience to help the organization achieve its ambitious goals for 2012.

What are the benefits of being a member of the Ethernet Alliance?

Ethernet Alliance members have an opportunity to be seen, influence Ethernet technologies, and make sure that what they have themselves developed follows Ethernet standards and interoperates with other equipment in a safe protected environment.

Ethernet Alliance  membership is very important for those who are developing Ethernet-based products, as well as people who use Ethernet-based products in their companies. Membership provides the opportunity to be involved in the discussions taking place about Ethernet today, which in turn will help shape the Ethernet of tomorrow. For people and companies that want to have an influence, being an Ethernet Alliance member is critical.

Organizations that are creating products incorporating standards-based Ethernet technology have an excellent opportunity to participate in Ethernet Alliance plug-fest activities. These plug-fests allow companies to test and prove their products’ interoperability with other manufacturers’ products. Members can take part in our interoperability demonstrations; these demos take place in large public forums where many people can see products interoperating with other products.

How does the Ethernet Alliance help to expand the Ethernet ecosystem?

It enables the expansion of the Ethernet ecosystem in several ways, for example, our strong relationship with IEEE. We coordinate and host IEEE meetings at which people address Ethernet standards, what the technology should do next, and how it can be improved.

Another thing we do to expand the ecosystem is to provide a place for great minds to meet by creating a space where 15 or 20 diverse companies involved in Ethernet can get on the phone to discuss issues and problems. They’re able to share ideas in a protected way. All of this allows us to develop consensus about what to do next; multiple companies are able to debate different topics and generate fresh ideas, which we can then take as a proposed new standard to industry standards organizations like IEEE. Doing so enables us to extend the ecosystem by adding to it.

These activities allow us to take Ethernet to new places, and to improve its effectiveness in the places that it has already been. We expand the ecosystem via this consortium of people, who are able to have open, honest discussions about how to make Ethernet a better technology.

What makes the Ethernet Alliance a safe place to have these discussions and do this work?

Our plug-fests – which take place at the University of New Hampshire’s Interoperability Lab (UNH-IOL) – start with a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). When companies want to test a given characteristic of Ethernet they can come together to demonstrate interoperability of their products regarding that characteristic under the protection of the NDA. With the NDA, the companies agree not to publicly share the specific results of any vendor involved. Results are instead reported under the umbrella of an Ethernet Alliance press release.

This enviroment permits members to come together and look at a ways to fix issues or propose new solutions, and to do so safely. Companies are willing to do this because it enables them to potentially save multiple man-months of development. Bringing a product to a plug-fest gives them access to all the best and brightest minds in the industry, and people that know how to read technology traces. You have people from the storage, adapter, and switching end of the process. When they come together companies can more easily diagnose problems that would have taken an individual company a very long time to solve alone in their own labs.

Why is the Ethernet Alliance making a global push in 2012?

One of the Ethernet Alliance’s strategic initiatives for 2012 is to become more global in focus; we’re reaching into Europe and Asia.

It’s fairly simple – Ethernet and the Internet are used around the world. The need to transmit data and take advantage of what Ethernet offers is global.

We’ll look to establish relationships with industry organizations across Europe and elsewhere – Germany, Dubai, and Hong Kong, to name a few – where  we can co-market and participate in new globally focused activities. Ethernet is everywhere, so we want a global community engaged in our discussions. Reaching out enables us to talk to more people, and involve the whole audience of people and companies using equipment and services based on IEEE 802- and 803 Ethernet standards.

What does the Ethernet Alliance do to ensure interoperability?

Plug-fests lay the foundation and enable our members to bring new or old products in to try out new things. The second thing we do is interoperability demonstrations at tradeshows or events where there are thousands of people in attendance. These demonstrations give us the chance to very publicly show how Ethernet equipment interoperates according to the standards being used.

Interoperability is a simple but important benefit. If you buy Ethernet technology today that works with your standards-based server, you can buy a new server and use that same piece of equipment with it. Without interoperability, you would have to continually replace things in your network and that would be very expensive.

Standards are the foundation of interoperability; once defined, they can be implemented. Companies can add their own ‘special sauce’ but the fundamental piece is that a standards-based product will work with someone else’s version of the same thing.

Through our plug-fests and other interoperability work, the Ethernet Alliance gives consumers a great deal of flexibility in their decision-making process. For example, significant thought goes into how long a given Ethernet cable should be, what speeds it can support, and choosing the proper format for the data. The standard, and its demonstrated interoperability, mean that people can buy that cable with a high degree of confidence that it will work as it is supposed to work. It also enables them to make more staged transitions as their networks evolve. And that is very important.