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Wishful Thinking: The CEE Edition

April 16, 2009
at 12:00 pm PST

So, before we dig into CEE (Convergence Enhanced Ethernet), I have a quick quiz for you: take a look at the two pictures below and make note of the differences:

image image

Ready? OK, back to the topic at hand….So, one of our competitors marked their entry into the realm of Ethernet switching with an FCoE capable switch. I honestly thought was kinda cool, since their actions continue to validate a vision, Data Center 3.0, we laid out almost two years ago and a unified fabric strategy we laid out a year ago. During their launch, however, the company made a curious pronouncement: said newly announced switch was the “industry’s only end-to-end Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE)-based solution that brings the Fibre Channel (FC) standard and Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE) together.”This had me scratching my head a bit since we announced the Nexus 5000 a year ago, with a fine collection of ecosystem partners, and have customers with the solution in production already. Perhaps there is something magical in CEE that I missed? Well, if you read IBM’s Redbook paper on FCoE and CEE, you will see that CEE looks remarkably similar to our discussion of the elements of Data Center Ethernet (DCE). The reality is that neither CEE and DCE are standards but rather marketing shorthand for a half a dozen extensions to the Ethernet standards that are in the process of being finalized and published--the exact same standards. We collectively came up with constructs like DCE and CEE because “IEEE 802.1Qaz” and its brethren is somewhat awkward to into conversation. Thankfully, this naming dichotomy is going to be short-lived. As the standards move towards finalization, you will either see adoption of the formal name, such as Data Center Bridging (DCB), of they will simply be folded into the term “Ethernet”, as has happened in the past.Oh, and as for the ducks, much like DCE and CEE, they are the same. :)

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5 Comments.


  1. Did one of the ducks travel in a tricked out Delorean and travel in time to last September when we had this conversation: http://blogs.cisco.com/datacenter/comments/dce_cee_and_dcb_what_is_the_difference/Not to be a pain, but Cisco could drop the DCE term (and while we’re at it, IBM can stop using FCoCEE) and then there wouldn’t be any argument to make.

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  2. Stuart is correct. Cisco insistence on using the term DCE is poor marketing. Although Cisco has created pre-standard technology in the past ( such CDP/LLDP, ISL/802.1q, PVST/MST) it usually made sense to do so. In this case, the term DCE causes me difficulties when pitching to management. They think Cisco is non-standard. Put it aside for now, and re-launch the term once CEE is established.

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  3. Hi Greg,CEE, or Convergence Enhanced Ethernet, is an IBM trademark (some may want to update their datasheets) that references the same standards that Cisco Data Center Ethernet adheres to. As you point out, it’s not unusual to have this kind of situation. What I object to is the proprietary”" name calling. For the record Cisco has never stated CEE is proprietary – we have nothing to gain by doing so. Cisco Data Center Ethernet will be Data Center Bridging compliant, as will CEE devices. Both will support IETF TRILL or .1aq (http://etherealmind.com/2009/03/30/trill-introduction-review-overview-why-what-how/) whichever comes first. And FCoE, but that may start you laughing all over again :

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  4. Kash Shaikh

    Well said Omar. At the end of the day these new standards such as DCB will be folded into the main standard which is Ethernet. BTW, I also think you made your point well with ducks that indeed CEE & DCE are the same but the pics of two ducks are a little different in color;-)

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  5. Omar Sultan

    Stay tuned gentlemen, change is afoot!Omar

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