Results from the first ever 25, 50 and 100Gb Ethernet plugfest, driven by the 25 Gigabit Ethernet Consortium, are in and the multi-vendor interoperability event has yielded some very promising results that showcase the level of maturity that the technology is currently at. Before discussing the vendor interoperability testing and results, it is important to understand what is driving it and what it took to get us where we are at today. According to Crehan Research1, in only three short years, 25/50 and 100Gb Ethernet will surpass all other Ethernet solutions as the most deployed Ethernet bandwidth. This trend is being driven by mounting demands for host-side bandwidth as data center densities increase and pressure grows for switching capacities to keep pace. It was only a short time ago when data centers were exploring the need for 10GbE, and in a little over two years, they are now looking toward 25GbE and greater speeds to answer their bandwidth concerns. More than just bandwidth, 25G technology is also helping to drive better cost efficiencies in capital and operating expenses when compared to 40G, which is driving cloud providers and enterprise data centers to migrate to higher speeds. These efficiencies, in concert with the endorsement of 25G by large cloud providers such as Google and Microsoft, appears to be what will cause 25G to surpass 40G as the most deployed server access speed.
In an effort to remove barriers to the rapid adoption of 25/50 and 100Gb Ethernet deployments, members of the 25G Ethernet Consortium, an open organization of third parties developers working together to enable and promote the standardization of 25 and 50 Gbps Ethernet, recently gathered to jointly test the interoperability of their networking products in an industry Plugfest. Plugfests are a mainstay of high tech industries for the purpose of verifying interoperability between products from different manufacturers and to help accelerate the growth of the entire industry. This, in turn, helps to build confidence that products will, “Plug and Play”, ultimately benefiting end users because they will feel secure in the knowledge that a multitude of product combinations have all be tested to work together.
The first ever 25/50G Consortium Plugfest was held at the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Lab (UNH-IOL) in scenic Durham, New Hampshire. Founded in 1988, UNH-IOL is one of the most renowned independent providers of broad-based testing and standards conformance services for the networking and data communications industry. The industry’s top manufacturers work with the laboratory to test, collect feedback on and improve their technology portfolios.
Over the years, the lab has developed testing criteria, tools and methodologies that manufactures have come to rely on to validate interoperability with each other. In today’s day and age, no one can go solo as a player in technology. As the industry moves away from proprietary solutions and towards open standards, products have to be able to play well with others. As such, UNH-IOL is no stranger to the open computing revolution. The lab currently hosts events for the Open Compute Project (OCP), Open Networking Foundation (ONF), the Open Networking User Group (ONUG), and Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV).
The 25G Consortium member companies, along with UNH students, gather in a 27,000+ square foot facility, which houses a multi-million dollar array of test equipment and the latest devices from UNH-IOL member companies, including many of the 25G Consortium members. The testing provides a forum where member companies can collaborate and ensure interoperability of feature sets and configurability between products. The week-long event, which is scheduled to be held annually, includes a wide variety of test scenarios including auto-negotiation, stressed conditions and the use of comprehensive benchmarking, data integrity, and stress-test tools in an effort to uncover a wide range of possible interoperability, data corruption, and protocol interpretation issues that might obstruct solution deployments in the field. The results of the testing demonstrate a high degree of multivendor interoperability in open environments and that proved protocol conformance is in line with industry requirements and expectations from standard, ubiquitous Ethernet-based solutions. The results were publicly announced and are being made available for download on the 25G Consortium website or can be viewed here.
The UNH-IOL Plugfest testing helps 25G Consortium member companies to develop higher-quality products and aids in bringing open networking solutions to market faster. Furthermore, it provides confidence in the ability to deploy best-of-breed products that can coexist so IT professionals feel self-assured in choosing 25GbE solutions for upgrading existing or building out new data centers. The results of the Plugfest will also be summarized into an, ‘Integrators List’, which will be posted shortly on the Consortiums web site at http://25gethernet.org/. If you are looking to expand your data center with 25G or greater Ethernet solutions or even looking into this for future projects, I encourage you to download the Integrator’s List when it’s available.