Wow! Ethernet Alliance at the 2013 Interop show

By Mario Chow

The show started with a blast. With the live demo, attendees really saw the value of having an organization such as the Ethernet Alliance in place.

We showcased 10/40GbE, iSCSI, FCoE (Fibre-channel over Ethernet), single mode and multi-mode fiber, copper, SFP+, QSFP+, multi-vendor CNAs (Converged Network Adapters), and storage port ID virtualization. With the participation of Avago, Cisco, Dell, Finisar, HP, Intel, QLogic, and Volex, the ecosystem reflected the typical mixed networking environment seen in real-world data centers. Aquantia also provided a static display illustrating 10G Ethernet Physical Transceivers, which was an interesting static display.

Some key technologies demonstrated in the Interop 2013 networking fabric included:

  • 10GbE / 40GbE – The configuration demonstrated aggregation of 4 10GbE edge to 40GbE core and then disaggregation after going from one core to a second. This portion of the demonstration allowed demonstration of copper and fiber connections using 40Gbe to 10GbE breakout cables as well as 40GbE to 40GbE cables.
  • DCB (Data Center Bridging) – The networking fabric was configured with DCB; it is the backbone that ultimately enables the ability to have a converged environment.
  • iSCSI, FCoE – The deployment of DCB ensures the Quality of Service parameters negotiation for iSCSI, and FCoE.
  • Multiple connector and media types

Besides the obvious interoperability demonstrations, one key feature was the demonstration of enforcing the quality of service required for storage traffic vs. regular Ethernet traffic in a converged network. The network was configured to enforce and ensure a minimum amount of bandwidth was guaranteed to the iSCSI storage, the FCoE storage, and the TCP/IP traffic.  

Using standard traffic measurement tools it was demonstrated to the audience how storage was configured to receive 800Mbps guaranteed out of 20Gbps. 

The demonstration was very well received and we engaged in many interesting discussions. After explaining the value of interoperability, each audience member we spoke to gained a better understanding of the importance of participating and being part of the Ethernet Alliance.

Ethernet is the technology that everyone understands with the largest base deployment. We came together to demonstrate how powerful Ethernet is and continues to be now and in the future.

I see many new exciting developments taking place within Ethernet and its ecosystem. Mark your calendars for Interop 2014 and come see the Ethernet Alliance’s next interoperability demonstration of real technology for real deployment. I hope to see everyone there again next year.

— Mario Chow is senior technical marketing engineer at Dell and is a active participant in the Ethernet Alliance