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2550100 Alliance Tries to Make 25G Easy

Brian Santo
5/24/2016
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It's been a big month for the 2550100 Alliance: It celebrated the recent commercial introduction of some of the first servers and NICs supporting 25G interconnect, completed a plug-fest of successful demonstrations of interoperability among 25G products from multiple participants and developed over 40 reference architectures for a variety of applications and configurations.

Roughly two thirds of data center interconnect installed today is still at 1G, but the service providers operating those data centers will all eventually upgrade, some of them soon. The group of companies participating in 2550100 Alliance have been working feverishly to give these providers a reason to ignore the well-trod 10G/40G upgrade road and head instead down the new path that leads through 25G, 50G and then on to 100G.

There are sound technological and financial reasons to move to 25G: Two 25 Gb/sec ports are more efficient than four 10 Gb/sec ports on multiple adapters. Power consumption is lower. The cost per bit is also lower.

40G is clearly on the way out; the question is how long can it linger in the data center? It could be a long time, if the companies looking to upgrade the soonest -- most likely the very largest data center operators -- choose to go the 10G/40G route because that's what's both reliable and available. That's why 25G/50G/100G suppliers want to give data center operators viable 25G alternatives soon. (See 40G Dead in Transport Networks.)

Hence all the recent activity, which is meant to give data center operators the confidence to choose the 25G path, despite most of it being new to the market. The group devised nearly 40 reference architectures, aiming to smooth the way for operators unfamiliar with the technology -- which is most of them -- to deploy the technology without having to do too much homework.

It seems to be working, too. What's the opposite of a canary in a coal mine? Resuscitating a rigid parrot? Raising a panda in captivity? Whatever it is, that's what test equipment is sometimes.

Ixia (Nasdaq: XXIA) has sold 25G test systems to all 50 of the top service providers in the world, Ixia senior product manager Charles Seifert told Light Reading. It's a solid indicator that interest in 25G is legitimate and widespread.


Want to know more about communications ICs? Check out our comms chips channel here on Light Reading.


Meanwhile, the Alliance held a plug-fest -- which it called "SolutionFest" -- to demonstrate that a full 25G environment is available, and that what is available is interoperable. Participants included Veeam (apps), VMWare (hypervisor), Dell (servers), QLogic (NIC), Amphenol (cables, optics), Cumulus (open switch OS), Cisco and Supermicro (switches), Kaminario (storage), Teledyne LeCroy (troubleshooting) and Ixia (testing).

The 2550100 Alliance was instigated by QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC), which earlier this year was among the first vendors to introduce a 25G NIC. The first 25G switches were introduced last year. Just this past April, Dell (and partner QLogic) claimed the introduction of the first 25G server, providing the last key element required to build a 25G system.

More switches have been marketed since the first few were introduced last year, and more are expected in the next quarter or two. At least a couple other NIC vendors are providing 25G products, according to Jesse Lyles, VP and GM of QLogic's Ethernet business unit.

Ravi Pendekanti, VP of server product management at Dell Technologies (Nasdaq: DELL), said his company is preparing to market a number of different server configurations for different applications in the coming months.

The Alliance now has over 140 members and expects to have somewhere near 200 by the end of the year.

— Brian Santo, Senior Editor, Components, T&M, Light Reading

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