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Brocade and Cisco squabble over future fabric standards

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Clashing acronym disarray has hit the networking scene with Brocade's recent claim that vendors won't rally 'round Cisco's version of data center Ethernet.

But first, let us serve as your metaphorical machete to help clear away the acronymic jungle that lies before you:

Cisco and Brocade have rival visions for making their next-generation networking gear become ground zero for data centers by using the same fabric for both servers and storage. Lossless Ethernet and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) protocols figure heavily in the plans.

The industry standards organization IEEE uses the term "data center bridging" (DCB) for such a unified protocol proposal, and is presently in the process of hammering out the details for the technology.

Several vendors such as Brocade have already jumped aboard the bandwagon and adopted the term "converged enhanced Ethernet" (CEE) to cover the version 0 list of specifications to consider before all this convergence stuff becomes a standard.

Cisco decided to go its own way with "Data Center Ethernet" (DCE) — which the vendor describes as a superset of CEE AND DCB proposals, using most of the same specifications with a few things thrown in such as congestion notification.

And now the crux of the matter

In a recent Byte & Switch article (hosted on El Reg, thank you very much), Brocade took a swipe at Cisco by calling DCE a Cisco-trademarked term and a proprietary implementation.

This slur generated much anger over at Cisco's Data Center Networks blog. Welcome senior data center marketeer Deepak Munjal and his rebuttal:

There has been some concern that Cisco’s efforts around FCoE and Data Center Ethernet are proprietary implementations and not supported by the industry. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The fact is that FCoE and Data Center Ethernet enjoy support from a variety of vendors and are being adopted by many standards bodies including IEEE and INCITS T11. Many vendors including Intel, Emulex, and QLogic have already announced FCoE and Data Center Ethernet products and many more have committed to doing so.

Of course, the question remains whether FCoE is a winning force at all. Infiniband and iSCSI may hold the line if vendors don't get behind the latest networking fancy. ®

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