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Mike Fratto
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Interop Data Center Chair Jim Metzler On Networking

We caught up with Jim Metzler who is the track chair of both the Networking track chair at Interop. He is also track chair for Application Delivery 2.0, as well. A lot is changing in Ethernet beyond "just faster," such as new standards for multi-pathing Ethernet and doing away with spanning tree, lossless Ethernet and better flow control. All of these feature will impact how you design networks.

We caught up with Jim Metzler who is the track chair of both the Networking track chair at Interop. He is also track chair for Application Delivery 2.0, as well. A lot is changing in Ethernet beyond "just faster," such as new standards for multi-pathing Ethernet and doing away with spanning tree, lossless Ethernet and better flow control. All of these feature will impact how you design networks.

NWC:Can you offer a quick statement on why you picked the sessions you did, the thinking behind the tracks?
Metzler: It was really about taking a step back and looking at the changes brought on by virtualization and cloud, not dismissing the mobile worker and the other things, but focusing on virtualization and cloud. Not just looking at problems down the road, but looking at today's issues, and how these two things are going to fundamentally change IT and what that means application delivery and networks from that perspective.

NWC: Let me ask a leading question. Why are we still talking about Ethernet?
Metzler: There was a time not so long ago when Interop was all about networking, with entire tracks on one networking technology. I can remember ATM, in the day, and 5-6 sessions just on ATM. But if you look around, there aren't a whole lot of networking panels at Interop these days, in fact, I had a panel a few years ago, no joke, called "Is there anything left to say about LAN?" To put that in perspective, Cisco was encouraging us to have a session on 10GbE, and I said, no problem at all, the first thing I'll do is explain to the audience that 10Gb is ten times the speed of Gig, and what do I do with the rest of the hour? And they really couldn't answer that. I know have a session called "Why Networking Must Fundamentally Change," and that's quite a shift from two or three years ago.

NWC: So why must it change?
Metzler: It must change because of two things: Virtualization and Cloud. And if my track had a subtitle, in fact, I'm giving a presentation to kick off the App Delivery track subtitled "Virtualization and Cloud changed everything." The thing to understand is that all of the attention is on one part of the system, the VM. The good news is that it makes computing virtual and dynamic, but most everything else, the larger system, not so much.  

NWC: Because they're not doing that yet, they're doing the mobility stuff in a very limited fashion, in the Layer 2 domain that VMware has defined.
Metzler: Exactly right, and primarily within a data center, VMware recommends, what? 622mps for a wide area link to support VM Free Motion? Well, that's a lot of capacity -- 0h yeah, and not more than five milliseconds round trip time -- that can really impress someone, to hear, oh speed of light, etc -- speed of light in a vacuum, maybe, but going through glass, copper and occasionally stopping in a router and spending a few milliseconds there, you can eat up that five milliseconds and get no where. And you don't want to be in a situation where you are saying "well, most of the time the VM Free Motion it works, but about one time in five or ten, because of some congestion, it doesn't work."

Mike Fratto is a principal analyst at Current Analysis, covering the Enterprise Networking and Data Center Technology markets. Prior to that, Mike was with UBM Tech for 15 years, and served as editor of Network Computing. He was also lead analyst for InformationWeek Analytics ... View Full Bio
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