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Ethernet equipment

Ethernet Management Looms

5:15 PM -- We jump at any chance to mention 100Gbit/s Ethernet, and it makes sense for us to do that. It's not just a new speed grade, but one that's still got open questions. It's worthy of news.

But at the end of Ethernet Expo Americas last week, as a panel of analysts check-marked the industry's hot topics, they came up with one that's arguably bigger. I think it was Michael Howard of Infonetics Research Inc. who brought it up at the end, citing it as one of the challenges facing carriers and Ethernet equipment vendors.

It's network management. Carriers still deal with multiple reporting schemes and management interfaces. Some kind of management overlay, something that talks to a variety of equipment, would help a lot, he said.

We've written about the possibility a couple of times. (See Triggering a New Control Plane and Extreme Puts Soapstone to Work.)

Network management is difficult to track. It doesn't move in discrete round numbers. It doesn't have easy metrics to recite, like low latency does.

But as Carrier Ethernet becomes even more widespread, the need for unified management will become more evident. I'll keep asking about it in 2011, and I'd expect to start seeing software companies show interest in this direction. Whether vendors buy into the idea probably depends on how much pressure they get from carriers.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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