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This article provides an overview of the evolution of the Ethernet data plane. In particular, it focuses on the emergence of features that have made Ethernet an attractive infrastructure technology option for carriers and network providers. These include the development of data plane maintenance protocols (OAM), and scaling enhancements, initially in the form of VLANs, then VLAN stacking (802.lad), and more recently complete recursion of headers (802.lah). The complete recursion of headers has led to the ability to decouple the infrastructure data plane from traditional bridging behavior while preserving other desirable attributes, leading to new approaches to operating Ethernet networks such as PBB-TE.