HP accuses Cisco of betraying IEEE standard principles

HP has accused Cisco of abandoning its promise to work on unified IEEE standards.

Both companies were working on the IEEE 802.1Qbg and IEEE 802.1Qbh standards, which are not yet approved and won’t be until the end of 2011. The companies intended to keep them as close as possible to one another so that there is common ground in their networking businesses.

That has since changed, with Cisco broadening the scope of the 802.1Gbh specification so that a new tagging system is required, despite the fact that both companies had originally agreed to use VN-Tag, a Cisco product, for the standards. 

HP claims, according to NetworkWorld, this will force switch and NIC vendors to use two different tagging systems if they want to support both standards, defeating the whole purpose of the companies working in unison to deliver closely-matching standards.

Cisco claims that this change was not a deliberate one made by management but rather a shift driven by customer demand, a claim which isn’t washing with HP. Cisco said it needed a new tag anyway and that its approach offers more versatility and longevity.

HP said that both standards were intended for data centre use, but it could be thought Cisco’s divergence means the data centre focus has been removed, making it an “anywhere-type” specification. Cisco says it’s still intended for data centre use, but that things changed along the way.

Both companies are still working together on the standards, but Cisco’s move away from the original design could possibly strain relationships between the two for some time to come.