10GBASE-T standard approved, Ethernet alliance ponders future advances

With the 10GBASE-T standard for ten-gigabit Ethernet signed sealed and delivered, the Ethernet Alliance's President Brad Booth looks ahead to 100 and 40 gigabit Ethernet.

In an interview, Brad Booth, president of the Ethernet Alliance, shared his thoughts on the Alliance and the direction of technology. His responses follow:

What was the thinking behind the creation of the Ethernet Alliance?

The idea to create the Ethernet Alliance came at a time when the 10GEA was winding down. Just as the 10GEA closed up shop, a couple of other 10G Ethernet projects started up. They realized that forming an alliance for each standards project was just too costly and inefficient. This was the first time that the industry tried to create an alliance to support all IEEE 802 Ethernet projects, so the rules and concepts from the past had to be re-written.

How does this organization differ from others, such as the previous Gigabit Alliance?

Past alliances were very focused on one (usually large) standards project. While this was effective for those projects, some of the smaller projects were overshadowed due to lack of a marketing alliance. Power over Ethernet is a good example. This market is just in its infancy, and Ethernet Alliance members are working diligently to explain and demonstrate this remarkable technology.

With the number of mergers and acquisitions, do you think we will continue to see new players in Ethernet development? In what area?

Mergers and acquisitions happen all the time. There was a flurry of them in the Gigabit Ethernet days, and that tends to happen with each new technology introduction. One of the primary drivers is Ethernet's growth into new markets. Many companies use the M&A strategy to gain access to new technologies instead of developing a homegrown solution. As for the area, I expect that it will be a broad range.

Who do you think will be the first adopters of 10GBASE-T technologies?

The data center market has been watching and waiting for 10GBASE-T, as the volume of Ethernet deployed worldwide is UTP-based.

With work being done on 100G and potentially 40G, what do you think the impact will be on applications in the future? What do you think tomorrow's desktop will look like, and what killer applications will it be running?

The next speed of Ethernet is intended to alleviate the bottlenecks at those points in the network where multiple links of 10G are in use today. We now live in a society where Internet access is commonplace, and the bandwidth demand from homes is outpacing that from business. What this means is that no one application is truly the "killer application." Rather, the combined demand and the expected response times, whether it be to view a Web page or download a movie, are going to become more demanding. To meet these needs, companies are going to have to find ways to eliminate the bottlenecks.

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