Driving Data Center Convergence with the Ethernet Alliance TeraFabric Interoperability Plugfest

By Chauncey Schwartz

Chauncey Schwartz, Chair Marketing Committee, Ethernet Alliance and Sr. Technical Marketing Manager, QLogic

You could say that data center convergence is a hot topic these days. White hot, even. Driven by rapid advances in areas such as Big Data, cloud computing, and server virtualization, everyone is looking to capture the benefits – such as lower CAPEX and OPEX, and reduced network complexity – that true data center convergence offers. However, achieving these advantages requires nimble, forward-looking strategies backed by technology solutions and equipment capable of both coexisting and interoperating efficiently in a common infrastructure.

Flexible, reliable, and market-proven, Ethernet is the best and most robust platform upon which data center architects can build the high-speed, low-latency converged networks demanded by today’s high-performance virtualized environments and applications. One of Ethernet’s most essential underpinnings is its capacity for true interoperability, particularly as enterprises increasingly look for new ways of minimizing network complexity without sacrificing performance or productivity. Network managers want and need to be able to fuse discrete network elements into a streamlined common architecture and know that it will work properly. 

Ethernet’s superior interoperability and performance didn’t just happen overnight or by magic. Rather, it is the end result of sustained effort from thousands of dedicated professionals and industry organizations like equipment vendors, standards development bodies, and associations such as the Ethernet Alliance working in tandem. One good example of the work being done is the Ethernet Alliance’s upcoming multi-vendor TeraFabric Plugfest.

Offering participants a safe, secure, and non-competitive environment in which to test technology coexistence and interoperability, plugfests play a critical role in achieving network convergence. Scheduled for October 22 – 26, 2012 at the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL), the TeraFabric plugfest is the latest in the Ethernet Alliance’s ongoing plugfest series. It has garnered participation and support from more than 20 key Ethernet developers, vendors, and innovators. Among the broad range of technologies that will be represented are IEEE 802.1 Data Center Bridging, 10GBASE-T, 40GbE, Energy Efficient Ethernet, high-speed cabling, and more, making it the industry’s first interoperability plugfest to address the entire breadth and scope of the Ethernet ecosystem. The climax of the event will be construction of a network targeted to support one terabit of data flow – if a human can dive from the edge of space and survive, then surely this group can work together to achieve the industry’s first terabit interoperability demonstration.

Look for our summation of results after the completion of this exciting and challenging event.  I’ll also work to provide some mid-point updates during the week. In the meantime, for more information on the Ethernet Alliance TeraFabric Plugfest, please visit http://ethernetalliance.org/event/terafabric-plugfest.

Thanks to collaborative events like the Ethernet Alliance’s TeraFabric Plugfest, users and enterprises around the world can rest assured that Ethernet will continue to meet their needs both now and far into the future.