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IEEE to improve 25G Ethernet industry standards

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July 28, 2014

The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) has launched a new study group in an effort to offer 25 Gbps Ethernet standardization a boost in speed.

But some might say-- ``Don't we already have Ethernet industry standards running at speeds higher than 25 Gbps?``

And the answer would be yes we do, but only as multiple links running in parallel. A 40 Gbps Ethernet connection is four 10 Gbps Ethernet serial links bundled together, and 100 Gbps Ethernet is ten links.

As switch vendor Plexxi notes, the 10x10 configuration that delivers 100 Gbps connections can be considered a placeholder, since the IEEE documentation for such speeds assumes 4 x 25 Gbps connections.

With hardware vendors already getting to work at the market-facing side of 25 Gbps Ethernet, the IEEE is now accelerating its own work on the standard.

In announcing the new study group, its chairman, Cisco's Mark Nowell said that its main focus will be on the MAC layer, adding that “the heavy lifting in developing and standardizing 25 Gbps Ethernet signalling technologies has been done as part of the development of 100 Gbps Ethernet. These technologies can be reused to enable a single-lane 25 Gbps Ethernet solution set for server interconnects for those future data centres.”

The MAC-layer standard will build on the physical layer specification, 802.3bj-2014, and the in-progress P802.3bm task force that's defining “4 x 25 Gbps operation for signal traces for chip-to-chip and chip-to-module applications, as well as for 25 Gbps operation over four parallel multi-mode fibres”, the IEEE says.

In other IT news

VMware has revealed some information on its AirWatch acquisition it did in January. AirWatch is a mobile device management system that integrates with the Instagram site.

The new system will integrate in VMware's end-user computing group, where it looks set to form a part of the system administration side of the equation.

VMware's CTO Colbert tells us a bit how this will work-- “Users should have a simple one click experience, without the need for entering usernames and passwords, or requiring a separate VPN connection to access internal resources. Also, we focus on a common set of functionalities and features that can apply consistently to all platforms – app management, content management and device management. Similarly, there should be common functions – like identity, network access control, and social – that should be integrated across our product set to ensure a consistent user experience across the whole suite.”

There's not much new there, except for the fact that AirWatch makes it possible for VMware to do all it says it wants to do for desktops on mobile devices as well.

However, the new vision is rather cleaner than the old. An intriguing addition is “content management”, which Colbert says will be delivered in the form of the AirWatch Secure Content Locker (SCL), a product he says “provides a strong enterprise file sync and share foundation”.

So strong, in fact, that “we will be deprecating Horizon Data and are looking to consolidate Horizon Data functionality into AirWatch SCL,” he added.

And SCL won't just be about a corporate Dropbox either, as Colbert feels “users should be able to create ad-hoc discussion groups based on a file or set of files. Users should also be able to see how often one of their files is being viewed and by whom.

That capability would help connect users in a new way and enhance productivity. Which is just what EMC's Syncplicity services says about its system.

Colbert doesn't mention when this integration will be delivered, however. But the CTO does say more will be revealed at VMworld on August 24th.

In other IT news

Huawei's goal in the desktop virtualization market also deals with network function virtualization for telcom companies, according to Huawei CTO for data centre solutions Ron Raffensperger.

But the question is, can the company really crack the desktop virtualization market? The Chinese networking maker was this year's only new entrant to Gartner's Magic Quadrant for x86 virtualisation, a position that the analyst firm said reflects strong growth in its home nation and other developing economies.

To be sure, Raffensperger does agree with that assessment, telling us that emerging markets are keen to move from PCs to lower-cost mobile devices. That opportunity to offer a desktop virtualisation option presents plenty of opportunities, and the fact that Huawei runs 100,000 desktops in that mode using its own software doesn't hurt when the time comes to demonstrate proof of concept.

Huawei's cloudy suite is called FusionSphere and is based on the open source Xen hypervisor, which Raffensperger said Huawei has modified extensively to make it more secure, scalable and reliable.

“It does not bear much resemblance to Xen,” he said. Huawei has tweaked the software heavily because the opportunity that got it interested in virtualization was wireless carriers' interest in network function virtualisation (NFV), the practice of putting more intelligence in the network core instead of in premises equipment.

Naturally, delivering NFV often means running virtual machines to drive subscribers' desired applications.

As wireless carriers typically have many customers, Huawei's move into the virtualization segment therefore needed more scale than it felt when Xen could deliver in an unaltered form.

Which is not to say that the company is interested only in VDI and wireless carriers-- as most of us know, Huawei is a lot more ambitious than that.

Raffensperger said Huawei is now also in the business of selling server virtualisation to anyone, anytime, and can also offer the resources that its partners want to take FusionSphere to market.

He also feels that the company's best chances to succeed soon will come in nations that aren't currently very virtualized and therefore offer opportunities that VMware and Microsoft don't.

Within those markets, industries like government and media look especially interesting, the latter thanks to broadcasters' rapid moves into digital production and internet streaming.

Huawei also has a foot in the hybrid cloud market, and is contemplating software Raffensperger said would see “a distributed cloud data centre where you have the ability to move various workloads between multiple physical data centres that look like logical data centres.”

The CTO feels that arrangement could span private and public clouds. If such a product were to soon be offered, Huawei would be in direct competition with VMware and Microsoft.

But for now, it is trying to be open, and you can't blame the company for that. Raffensperger said he feels that participation in the OpenStack segment is important to the company's ambitions and that despite offering its own servers, networking and storage, Huawei still intends to make certain its software is validated to run with top-tier hardware providers like EMC, HP and Cisco.

“As we looked at the enterprise businesses, we decided we don't want to be just pushing commodity servers,” Raffensperger added. “There's a real need for virtualization in a lot of the markets where we have opportunities.”

In other IT news

Cisco said today that it's re-launching its developer network program to have another chance at attracting 3rd party coders and developers to its systems. Call it the Cisco Developer Network version 2.0 if you prefer.

Some have hit upon the idea that getting others writing functions and applications for a system is a big chunk of the future of a company and it probably is.

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It's not even the first time it's called the program the Cisco Developer Network, or DevNet in the parlance of today's company announcement.

For instance, let's turn the calendar back to 2009, when Cisco renamed its existing developer program the Cisco Developer Network, “CDN as we call it”, “focussed on our broad developer community” as it was described then, “and leveraging the extensive capabilities of our broad developer network”.

That program got its own rename and became the Cisco Solution Partner Program, which is just as well or Cisco would have had to come up with a different name this time around.

According to Susie Wee, CTO of Networked Experiences, Cisco's DevNet program is designed to enable an open community of software developers – including ISVs, customers and Systems Integrators and Channel Partners – to help them easily and rapidly build Cisco-enabled applications to sell and use, on top of Cisco APIs to enhance or manage Cisco networks and platforms.

Cisco is encouraging the adoption of APIs across its products and fostering integrations with third-party products, the company says.

Specific resources will include engineering platform APIs, SDKs, ready-to-use code samples, a developer sandbox, developer support, and community management, Wee says.

Naturally, this time around there's an extra twist to the side that makes Cisco want to play-- OpenStack, OpenFlow and NFV are a threat to everybody building network equipment, and Cisco knows that all too well, so attracting lots of developers is a good move for the company.

The idea will be to convince developers and ISVs that it's faster and easier to work in the Cisco environment than outside it.

Wee also promises that Cisco has more than 100 APIs available and will be putting money into SDN, IoT, collaboration, mobility and security APIs.

Cisco is working with a few other companies to make access to APIs easier, and there's a Developer Sandbox to eliminate the cost and time of acquiring lab equipment and the technical staff to maintain it.

Source: The IEEE.

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