We’ve talked about Ethernet Exchanges in the past - Why Should you Join an Ethernet Exchange and also Three Key Factors When Selecting an Ethernet Exchange. This week Neutral Tandem’s Tinet subsidiary announced the launch of their global wholesale offering, “EtherCloud”. EtherCloud is a Layer 2 service capable of connecting diverse networks and delivering end-to-end Ethernet and VPLS connectivity on a global basis. The network footprint currently reaches 120 Points of Presence.
Even if you’re a recent member of the SP360 blog audience, you likely know that our flagship edge router – the ASR 9000 – is on my list of favorite things (it makes a great gift idea for the Holidays, btw…), and we’re pleased to report that it is on the lists of many of our largest service provider customers, too. The ASR 9000 has no question made a strong degree traction in the market place in the 18 months since it became generally available and in fact is clearly hitting its stride with a 40% QoQ increase in its customer base last quarter. This traction is not just because of its unmatched capacity in the edge, or its unique capabilities in supporting the services and applications of the Next Generation of the Internet, but also because of its high degree of resiliency and quality - prompting many customers I speak to, to continue to rave about it.
In addition to all this traction, contributing to some nice market share gains for Cisco - an increase in 2.7% in edge share in CYQ3 alone per ACG Research - we’re just as pleased with what the ASR9000 can do to support our service provider customers. To that end, we’re honored to announce the addition of Tata Communications to the list of prominent, reference customers.
If you aren’t familiar with the concept of an Ethernet exchange, it’s a fairly simple one. An Ethernet exchange is a place that enables service providers or large enterprises to interconnect on a neutral basis using Ethernet – instead of SONET/SDH – to provide higher bandwidth at lower costs. The real issue for a service provider or enterprise is not if, rather it is how to choose the right exchange to join? Or, at least which one to join first?
All of the major players offering an exchange are members of the Metro Ethernet Forum and are adhering to the latest standards. All seek to offer resilient carrier class services and a mix of Gigabit and 10 Gigabit Ethernet service rates. At first glance they might seem similar, but there are actually three critical factors that differentiate the experiences and that should be considered when evaluating an Ethernet exchange operator.
- Does the operator take a network-based approach to extend its reach?
- Can it provide a personalized service portal?
- Is it able to help with end-to-end interconnect oversight and management?
The reason why each of these is important is spelled out in the white paper, “Fast Forward to Ethernet Exchanges,” but let me provide a quick summary here.
The network-based approach is critical to making it easier to offer Ethernet services. Consider that the value of an exchange is largely based on the number of possible connections enabled by membership in that exchange. For example, a service provider linked to a one exchange with five members means that up to five connections could be made. However, if that same SP was connected to a networked Ethernet exchange in five different cities, each with five members, then that SP could connect to (and buy from / sell to) 25 other exchange members with just one Gig-E connection. Some exchanges take care of this inter-exchange network for you.
The second point is around portals. The whole point of the exchange is to make it faster and easier to connect disparate customer locations. Being forced to manually look up which buildings are “lit” wastes time and slows down the sales process. User portals that can be personalized and provide details on which buildings are “on network,” which cell towers are connected, and what circuits are available are just as important as the actual physical hardware itself.