New Alliance Hopes to Extend Use of Ethernet

By Paula Musich  |  Posted 2006-01-16 Print this article Print

A new networking industry alliance, formed last week, is working to promote the spread of the ubiquitous IEEE 802 Ethernet standard technologies.

A new networking industry alliance, formed last week, is working to promote the spread of the ubiquitous IEEE 802 Ethernet standard technologies.

The Ethernet Alliance, made up of 18 founding members, intends to act as a clearinghouse of vendor-neutral information on the application of IEEE 802 Ethernet technologies, promote established and nascent Ethernet technologies through interoperability demonstrations, and incubate new technologies based on Ethernet standards.

"As we move into new areas, Ethernet as a technology is still not understood. If people want to use Ethernet, heres a resource to show them how it works outside of the vendors pushing [their own] technology," said Brad Booth, president of the alliance, in Hillsboro, Ore.

Its first order of business is to recruit members to help with the effort, although that shouldnt be hard. Some 40 organizations are waiting to sign up, Booth said.

The Ethernet Alliance will help to educate users of new Ethernet-based technologies in a vendor-neutral manner, according to Michael Bennett, senior network engineer at LBLnet Services Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in Berkeley, Calif.

Bob Metcalfe, the inventor of Ethernet, said he had not heard of the new alliance but was encouraged by the idea.

"This is the first Ive heard of the Ethernet Alliance, but I refuse to be offended. Neither Ethernet nor I have died and gone to heaven, so maybe the Ethernet Alliance is a great idea," said Metcalfe, who is now a general partner at Polaris Venture Partners in Waltham, Mass. "The very first organizations that did what IEEE 802.3 and the Ethernet Alliance seems to be up to were called the DIX [Digital Equipment Corp., Intel Corp., Xerox Corp.] Ethernet consortium, which became IEEE 802.3, and the Ethernet Bandwagon, which became Interop, both circa 1979. We started IEEE 802 before the dots. So, who will get the 40G-bps and 100G-bps Ethernet standards moving along through 802.3?"

The Ethernet Alliance is eyeing emerging technologies that could potentially extend Ethernet into consumer electronics, next-generation Ethernet speeds such as 40G bps or 100G bps for metropolitan area networks, and Ethernet passive optical networks for residential access, Booth said.

The Ethernet Alliance does not yet have an official relationship with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, but it is "looking to establish a relationship with their corporate advisory group," Booth said.

Founding member organizations include 3Com Corp., Broadcom Corp., Foundry Networks Inc., Intel, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Sun Microsystems Inc.


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