Ethernet equipment

Metcalfe to Unveil 'New Ethernet'

PARIS -- Is the telecom world ready for a "New Ethernet"?

Ready or not, that's what's being presented by the "Father of Ethernet" Bob Metcalfe, currently a general partner at Polaris Venture Partners and Professor of Innovation at the University of Texas at Austin, on Feb. 23. (See Bob Metcalfe Goes Back To School.)

So says MEF president Nan Chen, who told a packed auditorium of hundreds of mostly baffled attendees Wednesday morning here at the MPLS and Ethernet World Congress that Metcalfe would unveil this new development in two weeks' time.

So what is this new development? Could it be Terabit Ethernet, which Metcalfe talked about some time ago? (See Bob Metcalfe on the Terabit Ethernet.)

Well, Chen isn't saying. "No comment," is his response. "Join the MEF online on Feb. 23," he adds when Light Reading asks about it.

We found a handful of others here in Paris who claimed to know what Metcalfe will unveil on Feb. 23, but they're all remaining tight-lipped. However, one industry figure with knowledge of the development suggested this would not be so much a "New Ethernet" as a "repackaging" of the existing Carrier Ethernet.

But what would that achieve? The majority of the normally well-connected delegates here at the Paris event suggested it would do little more than promote the MEF and its commercial activities, but hardly any, including those who are members of the MEF, had any idea at all what Metcalfe will unveil.

Those that were willing to hazard a guess, though, suggested the focus would be on creating a new vision for what Carrier Ethernet can achieve, especially in a cloud services environment, rather than any new technology.

Other, far more cynical suggestions were offered to Light Reading on the show floor, but repeating those ideas could cause legal problems.

Chen and Metcalfe now face the challenge of delivering against a promise made in front of the cream of Europe's Carrier Ethernet fraternity.

Will the Ethernet Emperor have any clothes? We await to see on Feb. 23.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

spc_markl 12/5/2012 | 5:43:06 PM
re: Metcalfe to Unveil 'New Ethernet'


Since the 1970s, has not Ethernet been the latest marketing term of what the companies want you to buy?

Mark Lutkowitz

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:43:05 PM
re: Metcalfe to Unveil 'New Ethernet'

I wouldn't focus on the term Ethernet. I think the new bit might simply be a way of bundling a set of common characteristics together to allow for -- nee, demand! -- a fresh round of MEF certifications.

Nan's creating demand for his company's services, which is what good marketers do.


digits 12/5/2012 | 5:43:04 PM
re: Metcalfe to Unveil 'New Ethernet'

Either I don't understand what you're getting at, Mark, or we visit totally different stores...

spc_markl 12/5/2012 | 5:43:04 PM
re: Metcalfe to Unveil 'New Ethernet'


It is just that the meaning of Ethernet has been a moving target over the years, such as with so many different modulation techniques.


fgoldstein 12/5/2012 | 5:43:03 PM
re: Metcalfe to Unveil 'New Ethernet'

Mark has it right.  Ethernet is a brand.  It's like Tylenol, which J&J uses for a number of products, some of which, like Tylenol Simply Sleep, don't even contain any aceotminophen (paracetemol). 

Original orange-hose CSMA/CD Ethernet hasn't been in general use since the mid-1990s.  Carrier Ethernet is a very nice product, but it's a different beast, albeit sharing the Ethernet family's PHYs and frame formats.  This confusion does cause problems.  I am aware of a major network build being done now where the original design called for Carrier Etheret, but the semi-skilled builders instead let a vendor take control and bought expensive routers with data center Ethernet SFPs on them, no CE capabilities at all.  This won't work.  They don't want to hear it, either.


giles0 12/5/2012 | 5:42:59 PM
re: Metcalfe to Unveil 'New Ethernet'

Carrier Ethernet itself is vaguely defined.

And it hasn't helped that there are those who have tried to spread the meme that Carrier Ethernet == PBB-TE.

How do you define "CE capabilities" Fred.

fgoldstein 12/5/2012 | 5:42:55 PM
re: Metcalfe to Unveil 'New Ethernet'

At least we have MEF 9 and 14 as standard compliance tests. Tons of boxes comply with it.  And some do not.  So it's a target for acquisition specs.  At least until Metcalfe convinces people that the spec is obsolete.

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