Tech Companies Rally Around Ethernet

Hardware, software, networking, electronics and other tech companies announced this week a collaborative effort to support and promote IEEE 802 Ethernet technology.

The Ethernet Alliance — whose members include Sun Microsystems, 3Com, Agere, Pioneer and Samsung — said its purpose will be to support and expand Ethernet technology, including IEEE 802 Ethernet standards.

While Ethernet has been a mainstay of technology networks large and small for decades, it is not assexy as its wireless cousin, 802.11, and needs a central point of collaboration and championship,alliance members said.

Ethernet’s Voice

Members said they will be highlighting a technology that is already playing a significant role in network and device connectivity.

“Although Ethernet has existed for more than 25 years, it does not have an industry voice thatrepresents the spectrum of IEEE 802 Ethernet standards developments and serves the IEEE 802 Ethernet industry as a whole,” said Ethernet Alliance president Brad Booth. “With the strong support of our founding members, the Ethernet Alliance will be that voice, and we will move aggressively to accelerate the growth and expansion of IEEE 802 Ethernet technologies.”

The Alliance indicated that instead of supporting single IEEE 802 Ethernet projects, it will support allsuch projects by speeding acceptance and time to market, cultivating efforts to develop and defineEthernet technology, and educating Ethernet users on their choices.

Pervasiveness and Prevention

The move could represent a boost to continuing Ethernet connectivity, which is becomingmore widespread. However, the absence of networking giant Cisco is a significant gap in the alliance, Gartner research vice president Martin Reynolds told TechNewsWorld.

Nevertheless, the forming the organization makes sense, he said, given the widespread deployment of Ethernet technology and the vendors’ desire to avoid fragmentation.

“Ethernet is pervasive, and there certainly is value in having the big vendors get together and make surethings keep going,” he said. “It’s in their interest to make sure the best connectivity technologies arethere when they need them.”

Referring to Ethernet technologies not only in networking, but also in storage and other areas of theindustry, Reynolds added the companies are on a sensible track to push advances without getting bogged down in different specifications or implementations.

Ensuring Future

“What it comes down to is a continued effort by these companies to ensure that this standard willcontinually work,” said Jupiter Research vice president Michael Gartenberg. The alliance will be useful by providing Ethernet users an expectation of what works and what does not, he said.

Such cross-company collaborations are likely to continue with so manytechnologies dependent on each other, Gartenberg believes. However, they will only occur when such cooperation makes sense to the companies, which are sometimes competitors.

“It’s always going to be: What’s in it for them?” he said.

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