"Build it and they will come," says inventor of the Ethernet

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Bob Metcalfe, Professor of Innovation at University of Texas, Austin; founder of 3Com and inventor of Ethernet

Will 2015 be seen as the turning point year for the industry in terms of Gigabit Ethernet? The IoT is also taking shape, and we could also be at the point where the "killer apps" for IoT are finally emerging. And with SDN, NFV and LSO all emerging, we are set for a new wave of innovation.

But who is driving innovation? Bob Metcalfe first coined the term "ethernet" in 1973, and the technology has evolved ever since. Today's carrier ethernet standard, for example, is far removed from that very first iteration. He believes ethernet is now a "model of innovation". We have a culture of "build it and they will come", such as Gigabit Ethernet, but this provides new capabilities, drives innovations and encourages new applications.

High speed networks are driven by high-speed apps, such as video. But they also need to support the proliferation of huge numbers of devices – such as IoT devices, which, on their own, require very low bandwidth, but collectively add up to extremely high bandwidth utilisation.

The arrival of SDN and NFV are the next logical steps in the new network architecture, moving away from proprietary hardware to software and open systems. How far can we take the ethernet in the future? The answer would appear to be as far as our desire to innovate requires.

Filmed at: GEN15, Dallas, 17 November 2015

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