By Biren Mehta, Senior Marketing Manager, SP Marketing in Routing and Switching, Cisco
Have you ever tried to order a pizza that 20 different people would enjoy? Just imagine getting twenty companies to agree upon a vigorous test plan that included over 600 test cases! (No easy cop-out by just getting plain cheese here…). Big kudos go out to the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) for the launch of the Carrier Ethernet 2.0 (CE 2.0) certification program and to the first wave of MEF CE 2.0 certified companies.
The MEF certification of Carrier Ethernet equipment and services is of significant value to network operators. The certification establishes a standard for delivering carrier-grade Ethernet services, speeds deployment of new services, and creates interoperable trust in a multi-vendor multi-operator network environment. MEF CE 2.0 greatly expands Ethernet services and further advances the industry through standardization of interconnectivity. Improvements include extending the Ethernet services reach, multiple classes of services for optimized mobile backhaul delivery, and greater manageability for delivery of differentiated applications over managed networks globally. Read More »
The times, they are a-changing! And this is just the beginning!
Like the classic ‘60s tune composed by the legendary musician Bob Dylan, the world continues to change in more ways than we had imagined even a decade ago. We have seen the advent of Internet for all, free phone calls with Voice-over-IP, as well as free application software available not just for computers but delivered over mobile wireless networks to our smartphones and tablets. Desktop applications have given way to web-based applications, and the rapid ascent of social media to communicate with a globally connected set of followers in fractions of a second.
Set against this backdrop of these phenomenal technology advances, the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) has enjoyed a decade of outstanding technology and market success. Initially founded by a handful of enterprising individuals, the MEF recently hosted their tenth anniversary in California’s Napa Valley with an “A List” industry professionals from their 185 member companies. The definition of Carrier Ethernet is synonymous with the work of the MEF -- a set of standardized and cost-effective Ethernet business services, scalable, reliable, with service level guarantees that can traverse the metro, the nation, or the globe across any media.
Generations of innovations and new service application drivers (mobile broadband, video, and cloud) for Carrier Ethernet have been rapidly driven forward by the dedicated efforts and influence of the MEF volunteers. As with new generations of music, adoption of Carrier Ethernet services in the marketplace was not without similar challenges to overcome. The MEF and their close-knit community of equipment vendors and service providers have built a massive following around the globe. The effects of Carrier Ethernet market growth on world business, predicted by industry analysts to reach $40B in services and equipment in 2014, are profound.
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 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.