Organizing Around Ethernet

High-tech vendors large and small banded together this week to make Ethernet the high-speed interconnect technology of choice.

The Ethernet Alliance, which includes all IEEE 802 Ethernet standards, will help companies increase acceptance and put Ethernet products on the market faster.

Founding members of the alliance include 3Com, ADC, Agere Systems, AMCC, Aquantia, Broadcom, Force10 Networks, Foundry Networks, Intel, Lawrence Berkeley Labs, Pioneer Corporation, Quake Technologies, Samsung, Sun Microsystems, Tehuti Networks, Tyco Electronics, The University of New Hampshire Interoperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) and Xilinx.

The group will focus on Ethernet technology incubation, interoperability demonstrations and education. To promote these, the Ethernet Alliance has started the incubation process for 100 Gigabit Ethernet, among other tasks.

Ethernet has been around for years, so why forge a group now?

Blaine Kohl, vice president of marketing for the Ethernet Alliance and Tehuti Networks, said the founding companies had already formed several one-off alliances to promote technologies like one and ten Gigabit Ethernet.

However, each time the ad-hoc group would incorporate a new technology and demonstrate interoperability, it would shut the group down when the work was completed, she said.

The companies who provide Ethernet technology thought they would be better served by an ongoing, stable organization to use resources more efficiently.

“It became obvious that this was a much better way of going about the effort than doing these ad-hoc, solely-focused type of alliances,” Kohl said.

For example, the Ethernet Alliance might remove the barrier of start-up and organizational issues that surround individually driven efforts.

From the list of founding members, one could pick a few companies that should perhaps contribute to the alliance, but none is so blatantly absent as Cisco Systems, which has developed its share of network switches based on Ethernet.

Cisco has made it clear that it also focuses on InfiniBand technology, a more powerful alternative to Gigabit Ethernet in the wake of its acquisition of Topspin Communications.

Kohl refused to comment on why Cisco isn’t a founding member, although she said the alliance will be announcing additional members in the next few days.

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