Don’t Bet Against Ethernet!

RouletteIn case you missed it, there was another report released recently confirming that faster Ethernet adoption, especially in the data center, is accelerating. According to Dell’Oro Group, the L2-3 Ethernet Switch market is forecast to approach $25B in 2017, with future growth to be driven primarily by sales of higher speed Ethernet switches optimized for larger data center deployments, as the core of the data center quickly migrates to 40 Gigabit and 100 Gigabit Ethernet.

“In general, we are moving toward a period of data center consolidation and change, where there will be fewer, larger, data centers and the ownership of data center equipment will change,” said Dell’Oro VP Alan Weckel. The data center will be the site of almost all revenue growth during the forecast horizon, as the cloud forever changes how networks are built, he said. The survey also found that Fixed and Modular 10 Gb/E port shipments are expected to expand beyond the data center to campus devices, such as high-end workstations and 802.11ac access points.

Another recent report found that shipments of higher-speed ports — 10G, 40G, 100G — shot up 62% in 2012. Nearly a third of participants in a third survey indicated that 40GbE and 100GbE would have a significant impact on their future operations.

While everybody is in a tizzy about software-defined networking and virtualization, good old Ethernet, which just celebrated its 40th anniversary, continues to chug along, much like other dinosaurs like the mainframe, tape storage and the Unix operating system. They just keep on working. They’ve changed over time, i.e. 2.94 megabits per second (Mb/s) is now 100 gigabytes per second (Gb/s), as have their applications, but they continue to evolve to meet market needs.

In a recent blog post, John D’Ambrosia, acting chair of the 802.3 IEEE 400 Gigabit Ethernet Study Group, chairman of the Ethernet Alliance, an Ethernet evangelist and distinguished engineer at Dell, noted that the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the invention of Ethernet and its 30th year as an IEEE standard has created a moment for a period of reflection about both where Ethernet has been and where it’s going. A multitude of industry standards bodies, alliances, and organizations are discussing myriad directions for Ethernet. “From its roots in the enterprise to its growing presence in access, datacenter, and metro networks, there are a multitude of technologies being developed. While the success of Ethernet in any of these applications is not guaranteed, there is an old saying: Don’t bet against Ethernet!

Although the standard isn’t expected until 2016, the IEEE 802.3 400 Gb/s Ethernet (400GbE) Study Group, is working on the next major update. And somewhere down the road, the next increment increase is expected to be 1.6TbE.

For a timelier outlook on where Ethernet is going, its inventor, Bob Metcalfe, will be the keynote speaker at the Ethernet Alliance’s Technology Exploration Forum in October. In addition, he will be leading a brainstorming session.

Remember: Don’t bet against Ethernet!

Image credit:  clry2 – CC-BY-SA