Ethernet killed the WAN star

40 years ago, on 22 May 1973, Bob Metcalfe who was working at the Xerox PARC facility circulated an idea to connect personal computers to a laser printer in a memo titled “Alto Ethernet.”

It contained a rough diagram and suggested using copper cables. It used data packets just like Hawaii’s AlohaNet. Ethernet was born.

In the passing years, Ethernet has become the staple method of connectivity in all buildings around the world.

However, it has now expanded to include connecting these building to each other as well. Typically, the WAN has been the domain of TDM and MPLS, but no more.

Ethernet is killing the WAN star and changing the landscape.

Ethernet is making networks commodities and more and more it is possible to buy shelf silicon to build networking devices.

These devices now straddle the WAN market in both fibre and radio formats. (BTW: AlohaNet was wireless!).

Look at these Ethernet standards:

  • IEEE: 802.3 10Base-T, 802.3u 100Base-TX, 100Base-FX, 100Base-LX, 802.3z 1000Base-SX/LX, 802.3ab 1000Base-T, 802.3 CSMA/CD AcCERs Method and Physical Layer Specifications, 802.3ae 10 Gigabit Ethernet, 802.3x Flow Control, 802.3ad Link Aggregation, 802.1Q Virtual Bridged LANs, 802.1D MAC Bridges, 802.1w Rapid STP, 802.1s Multiple Spanning Trees, 802.1x Port-based Network Access Control, 802.1ad Provider Bridges, 802.1ah Provider Backbone Bridges, 802.1ag Connectivity Fault Management (CFM), 802.1ab Link Layer Discovery Protocol, 802.1ah Provider Backbone Bridging.
  • MEF: 2 Requirements and Framework for Ethernet Service Protection, 4 Metro Ethernet Network Architecture Framework, 6.1 Metro Ethernet Services Definitions, 9 Abstract Test Suite for Ethernet, 10.1 Ethernet Services Attributes, 11/13 User Network Interface (UNI), 12 Metro Ethernet Network Architecture Framework, 14 Abstract Test Suite for Traffic Management, 15 Requirements for Management of Metro Ethernet, 17 Service OAM, 19/21 Abstract Test Suite for UNI.
  • ITU: Y.1731 OAM functions and mechanisms for Ethernet, G.8032 Ethernet Ring Protection.

This is more than just gobbledegook on a specifications sheet. The above allow an enterprise or business to:

  • Connect any type of network equipment on any type of media
  • Improved speeds and methods of connectivity
  • Secure their communications end to end
  • Provide path protection and disaster recovery
  • Troubleshoot connectivity problems
  • Prioritize and management different applications on different services levels
  • Manage traffic levels
  • Authenticate traffic flows
  • Report on connectivity uptime in an accurate manner
  • Aggregate traffic

Currently any engagement with a traditional operator is time consuming and difficult.

Ethernet is the game changer as it allows instant provisioning, a departure from the clumsy and antiquated days of old.

Happy birthday, Ethernet! Life really does start at 40.

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Ethernet killed the WAN star