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DCE, CEE and DCB. What is the difference?

September 10, 2008 - 4 Comments

In one word, NOTHING. They are all three letter acronyms used to describe the same thing. All three of these acronyms describe an architectural collection of Ethernet extensions (based on open standards) designed to improve Ethernet networking and management in the Data Center. The Ethernet extensions are as follows:- Priority-Based Flow Control = P802.1Qbb- Enhanced Transmission Selection = P802.1Qaz- Congestion Notification = P802.1Qau- Data Center Bridging Exchange Protocol = This protocol is expected to leverage functionality provided by 802.1AB (LLDP)Cisco has co-authored many of the standards referenced above and is focused on providing a standards-based solution for a Unified Fabric in the data center The IEEE has decided to use the term “DCB” (Data Center Bridging) to describe these extensions to the industry. You can find additional information here: In summary, all three acronyms mean essentially the same thing “today”. Cisco’s DCE products and solutions are NOT proprietary and are based on open standards.

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  1. Problems with DCE

  2. egardless of what we call it””This sort of attitude causes real problems. Naming conventions really matter, and we have seen in the past that this type of obfuscation causes real problems in the field. Lets talk about “”ethernet auto-negotiation”” as an example, which for many years did not “”auto”” very well at all. Cisco has a reasonable history of proprietary ‘features’ for ethernet, and often with good reason (see ISL, Uplinkfast, Backbonefast) but this causes real angst in the real world. Cisco and the IEEE need to converge their terms so that the consumers can clearly understand the pitch. Posts like this in arcane corners of the Internet is not enough to make it clear to market. The perception that DCE is Cisco proprietary is not likely to go away, its already established. If you want to make money with this product, be clear – and less clever. Greg”

  3. The challenge that we have is that the proposals at IEEE DCB group have not been ratified, so what functionality is supported and by who? FC-BB-5 at T11 is a single standard, but IEEE DCB workgroup is looking at multiple features with different status and timelines.I would agree that Cisco is heavily involved in creating and supporting the standards. Unlike the IEEE DCB standards website which has proposals and schedules, neither CEE or DCE have formal definitions.Cisco came up with Data Center Ethernet term and since other companies can not use the term, they may call it proprietary (I do see the has some good detail on the In-Depth tab).The definition of CEE is not defined on any website in a pre-standards deployment. There is room for confusion (and FUD) since the 4 Ethernet extensions that you list are being worked on the standards, but not all of them will be supported by all vendors at the same time or in the same manner.

  4. I agree that one of the challenges is that the proposals within the IEEE DCB group have not been ratified yet. We are committed to supporting standards and then building upon them to address customer needs. I’m hopeful that once we have standards in place, what we call it won’t really matter.You can find what functionality is supported on Cisco platforms in our data sheets. An example can be found here: Also, the URL you referenced in your post is a great resource for finding information on Data Center Ethernet.Posts like these will help alleviate some of the confusion around these terms. The terms DCE, CEE, and DCB all attempt to describe the same thing today but with different 3 letter acronyms. In the end, driving towards approved standards is really what matters – regardless of what we call it