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As Ethernet turns 40, some seek to take it to the cloud

Stephen Lawson | May 27, 2013
The CloudEthernet Forum is launching at an event marking Ethernet's 40th birthday

The group will be an activity of the Metro Ethernet Forum, which works on specifications for wide-area Ethernet, but will be an independent body, according to Walker. It will share some back-end resources with MEF, whose board will sign off on the specifications adopted by the CloudEthernet Forum. However, MEF's membership won't shape the new group's direction, said Nan Chen, president of MEF.

There are some notable absences in the forum's membership as it launches. Most prominently, Cisco Systems isn't a member. But the 11 founding members include several high-profile names, including Huawei Technologies, Verizon Communications and cloud service provider Equinix. Organizers have talked with Cisco and other potential members, who may yet join, Walker said. Membership is open to anyone for an annual fee of US$15,000. MEF members can join for $10,000, because some administrative costs are shared.

The fact that builders of massive cloud infrastructures are now looking to Ethernet as a backbone shows how far the technology has come from being a 2.94M bps LAN in 1973, Walker and Chen said.

"It's great that the original idea of Ethernet is something that is so flexible, adaptable and extensible that it's been able to remain current and relevant," Walker said.

The trail was blazed for cloud Ethernet 10 to 15 years ago when the technology was first adapted to WANs and the Metro Ethernet Forum was launched, Chen said. "We really bridged the telechasm, if you will, from LAN to WAN," he said.

 

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