Gordon Moore, who created the Moore’s Law, has predicted that technological advances would lead to doubling of the number of transistors on a chip approximately every two years. Fewer people have heard of its networking equivalent, Metcalfe's Law, formulated by Robert Metcalfe, which states that the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system. So, the greater number of users of a networked service, the more valuable the service becomes to the community.

Now, think of the IoT, in which the user need not be a human, but rather a machine. The Ethernet was developed as a system for connecting computers within a building using hardware running from machine to machine. It has evolved into a family of networking technologies and its latest iteration, the 40/100GE standard known as IEEE 802.3ba, was written with data center communications in mind.

To minister to a high-speed world of constant connectivity, today’s data centre is home to thousands of host servers allocated as clusters. Each host consists of one or more processors, memory, network interface and local high-speed I/O all tightly connected with a high-bandwidth network. The Ethernet serves as a cluster interconnect in the majority of cases (with InfiniBand in second place).

The data centre industry is constantly growing, and at an accelerating rate as more of the world comes online and more businesses turn to the cloud for their data infrastructure. The research firm Gartner has estimated that by 2020, the IoT will include 26 billion units installed generating an almost unfathomably large quantity of Big Data that needs to be processed and analysed in real time. This data will represent an ever-larger proportion of the workloads of data centres, leaving providers facing new capacity, speed, analytics and security challenges.

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