The coming year looks to be packed with Ethernet trends and milestones. Of course, Ethernet's ubiquity means that in any given year, something is happening, but 2013 is looking particularly busy.
When we say that, we've got three specific events and one general trend in mind. Explanations below, along with some comments from an analysts' panel that wrapped up Ethernet Expo 2012 in November.
We tried to focus on just a few items that are very specific to Carrier Ethernet. Small cells and software-defined networking (SDN), in particular, have relevance to Ethernet but are getting their share of year-end attention elsewhere on Light Reading. Use the message board to let us know what else we should have spotlighted.
400Gbit/s is born
"Born" as an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) standard, that is. John D'Ambrosia, who's employed by Dell Inc. but best known as a key leader in ushering the IEEE towards the next high-speed Ethernet standard, writes in EE Times that 400Gbit/s work will begin in March.
The rise of usage-based models
Such models are becoming possible as bandwidth-on-demand becomes a reality for carriers. "It's a new way for enterprises to utilize Ethernet services," said Erin Dunne of Vertical Systems Group.
Infinera Corp. recently introduced a dynamic-bandwidth feature that could come into play here. And of course, SDN is being eyed as a way to make on-demand provisioning possible.
"To anyone asking why optical transport cares about SDN, I think we overwhelmingly got the answer that bandwidth-on-demand is the reason," said analyst Mike Genovese of MKM Partners.
Carrier Ethernet 2.0 happens
The first round of Carrier Ethernet 2.0 certifications will go out in January, and the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) is making a big deal of it, holding a special ceremony during its Carrier Ethernet Summit in San Diego on Jan. 29. Ethernet inventor Bob Metcalfe will even be there.
It's a lot of marketing, but the progress of Ethernet does warrant a "2.0" marker, analysts agree. "I thought it was really smart to identify this as, 'OK, we accomplished the major themes; now we've moved into the 2.0 era'," said Michael Howard, principal analyst with Infonetics Research Inc.
The MEF's next big initiative will focus on running Ethernet services on carrier clouds. "We had a lot of discussion about service management last year, and now you add SDN and the Metro Ethernet Forum initiative -- it's all coming together," said Heavy Reading analyst Stan Hubbard.
One lingering question is whether Carrier Ethernet 2.0 really needs so many classes of service -- three of them, applied to eight service types. "It's probably a little early. There's no crying need for it yet," said Patrick Donegan of Heavy Reading.
Ethernet turns 40
It's a good bet Bob Metcalfe's calendar is full on May 22, 2013. We don't know what's being planned, but we're sure to hear about it -- a lot -- as the date approaches. So, get ready to raise a glass.
— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading