UNH-IOL boosts Data Center Bridging (DCB), FCoE test efforts

Oct. 5, 2011
The UNH-IOL announced that it now offers conformance and interoperability testing for all Data Center Bridging (DCB) standards. The lab is also now offering complimentary DCB trial testing for non-member companies.

The University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL - Durham, NH) announced that it has boosted its Data Center Bridging (DCB) testing services by updating existing test suites and test tools in accordance with the finalization of all IEEE Data Center Bridging (DCB) standards. Proclaiming itself "the first and only independent laboratory to offer testing for all DCB standards," the UNH-IOL reports it has seen a growing interest in DCB, as evidenced by membership in the lab’s DCB Consortium doubling over the past 12 months.

Why are Data Center Bridging (DCB) testing services important? The IOL's contention is the following:

Today's data center operators and large enterprises are faced with the challenge of managing an unprecedented amount of data and new applications without sacrificing reliable network performance, while operating on shrinking budgets and limited resources. Compounding this challenge, contemporary data centers need to run multiple network fabrics, which require an extensive amount of manual and technical labor to maintain.

Installation of DCB-enabled products by data center operators and enterprises will allow for convergence of these multiple network fabrics into a single, enhanced lossless Ethernet network, and may therefore lower overhead expenses required for day-to-day operations, while minimizing the costs of data center cooling, creating a more efficient environment by reducing the amount of energy consumed, and freeing up time for the technical staff.

Further, utilizing DCB-enabled products will make it possible for the lab's member companies to expand their services to support a variety of their customers’ current and future data center applications, as storage protocols continue to evolve. By providing members with access to the latest DCB testing services, the UNH-IOL says it is helping members prepare for the next-generation of data center networks.

An offer is currently available to non-member companies for a one-time complimentary trial test on any DCB device. Companies that participate in the opportunity can select their preferred test for validation of DCB implementation in their device.

The demonstration of the UNH-IOL’s testing capabilities provided by the free trial allows participating companies to work with the lab’s experienced technical staff and become familiar with the UNH-IOL’s testing procedures prior to purchasing a membership. Upon completion of the trial test, participants will receive a detailed report of the testing results.

Non-member companies interested in receiving a complimentary trial test on a DCB device should contact Ryan Zarick at [email protected].

As an independent organization, the UNH-IOL states is committed to neutral testing of emerging and existing data storage technologies, such as DCB, to ensure credible results. Through the DCB Consortium, the UNH-IOL’s experienced staff works directly with chip, silicon, original equipment manufacturer (OEM), and system vendors from the storage target, networking switch and converged network adapter (CNA) segments to identify DCB implementation issues within devices during the early stages of development.

Interoperability issues remain a key challenge for DCB-enabled devices, and the UNH-IOL provides a neutral, multi-vendor environment for these issues to be identified and addressed, helping members to cost effectively reduce product time-to-market. In addition, upon successful demonstration of a device’s compliance to the DCB standards and interoperability with other vendor devices, members receive an independent technical report of verification from the lab.

The UNH-IOL collaborative testing model distributes the cost of performing trusted, independent testing and validation through an annual membership. The annual fee for participation in the UNH-IOL’s Data Center Bridging Consortium is $14,000. More information on becoming a member of the Data Center Bridging Consortium at the UNH-IOL can be found at http://www.iol.unh.edu/services/testing/dcb/.

Enhanced FCoE Efforts

The UNH-IOL also contributes extensively to technology standards development through participation in a variety of standards bodies and industry forums, such as the Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA). Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), a storage protocol dependent on DCB, will be tested at the FCIA Fibre Channel Over Ethernet Plugfest #7.

During the plugfest, which will take place October 24 - 28 at the UNH-IOL, cable and data center operators, as well as Fibre Channel (FC) device vendors, will have the industry’s first opportunity to test against the recently ratified 16G FC standard in a neutral, multi-vendor environment. Backwards compatible with previous FC standards, 16G FC protects existing storage infrastructure investments, notes the lab. Interoperability testing of FCoE devices will also be performed at the plugfest.

In addition to the FCIA plugfest, the UNH-IOL is partnering with the Ethernet Alliance for the upcoming Ethernet Alliance DCB Plugfest, which will take place October 17 - 21 at the lab.

“UNH-IOL’s knowledge of both of the Ethernet and Fibre Channel technologies and how they relate to each other makes UNH-IOL an ideal lab for Fibre Channel plugfests. As noted this is our 7th FCoE plugfest, but UNH-IOL has been handling our Fibre Channel plugfests for years now,” said Greg McSorley, treasurer FCIA Board and Technical Business Manager at Amphenol Corp.

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