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CloudEthernet Forum formed to scale networks into virtual age

All the kids in the Metro Ethernet Forum want to be members of the new club

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Nine of the majors in the Ethernet market have joined up to create the CloudEthernet Forum which they say will help the venerable networking protocol adapt to the challenges of large-scale cloud services.

The forum is being spun out of the Metro Ethernet Forum – MEF – with the initial cabal comprising Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya, Equinix, HP, Juniper Networks, PCCW, Spirent Communications, Tata Communications and Verizon.

There's no doubt that Ethernet's showing its age: in a world where tens of thousands of virtual server machines can live in a data centre, some of Ethernet's constraints look quaint (for example, 802.1Q's 4,096 limit on the VLAN number).

The group says it will “work to develop Ethernet to enable collections of millions of virtual servers and storage devices to perform reliably and efficiently across both regional and global networks.

As well as VLAN scaling, the forum will be addressing performance at Layer 2, large network resilience, and trying to displace the last pockets of non-Ethernet networking (particularly in big storage).

The group says it wants to “uncouple the complex and inflexible relationship” between Layer 2 and Layer 3 protocols, reduce equipment complexity, and reduce the number of network management layers cloud operators have to deal with. ®

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