The Ethernet Alliance has announced the summarized results of the Ethernet in the Data Center subcommittee interoperability plugfest for products designed to support IEEE 802.1 Data Center Bridging (DCB). Member participants including Cisco, Dell, Emulex, Intel, Ixia, JDSU, Leviton, Marvell, Mellanox Technologies, NetApp, Panduit, QLogic, Spirent, and Volex gathered at the University of New Hampshire’s Interoperability Lab to complete a challenging set of interoperability tests. The large number of participants indicates the growing interest and demand for support in DCB capabilities, and the event provided an excellent opportunity to test the improving maturity of DCB enabled Ethernet networks. In addition, this event marked a huge accomplishment with the first demonstration of interoperability testing of IEEE Std. 802.1QauTM-2010 Congestion Notification (QCN) while continuing to test DCB Capability Exchange Protocol (IEEE P802.1Qaz,), Enhanced Transmission Selection (IEEE P802.1Qaz) and Priority-based Flow Control (IEEE P802.1Qbb).

The plugfest took place the week of May 17, 2010 and focused on testing the interoperability of cabling, test equipment, network adapters, storage systems and switches built to support IEEE 802.1 DCB standards and draft standards. The plugfest results were impressive considering that this was the first time many vendors had participated in a DCB plugfest, and the test results provide Ethernet users an increased level of comfort knowing that there will be a wide availability of converged products and a greater breadth of vendor choice. Participants were able to demonstrate effectively the interoperability of their products and participate in a lossless Ethernet fabric simultaneously on the same network. In addition to traditional TCP/IP traffic, interoperability was also demonstrated with multiple converged traffic classes including higher layer protocols such as Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and iSCSI over DCB as well as high performance computing traffic being properly managed by the DCB protocols.

"The importance of interoperability in developing technologies such as Data Center Bridging is vital. The vendors that came together at this event are turning DCB technology into reality by implementing the standards and demonstrating the robustness of initial implementations,” said Patricia Thaler, IEEE 802.1 Data Center Bridging Task Group chair.

“The IEEE 802.1 DCB task group efforts offer significant improvements in how data moves through Ethernet networks and permits the convergence of multiple traffic types onto a single network,” stated Charlie Lavacchia, Ethernet Alliance President. “Ethernet Alliance sponsored plugfests help to prove the feasibility of the technology, to test interoperability among multiple vendors, and to prepare the end user for adoption of new Ethernet technologies. DCB plugfests are critical to ensure the end users can deploy new technologies like FCoE or enhance existing ones like iSCSI.”

Additional information on the interoperability demonstration will be available in a white paper published next month and a paper of findings for the first interoperability testing can be found on the Ethernet Alliance Web site at