Though we often take it for granted, the global data network is one of the wonders of our world. Without that network, users around the world would not be able to surf the web, post video and text, and communicate with each other using voice, chat, and e-mail.
The success of the global data network rests on interoperability standards that were created by standards development organizations like the IETF, IEEE, ITU-T, and W3C. In those organizations, expert technologists meet to create the standards that define how different products made by different vendors will work together. Without standards, the Internet as we know it would not exist.
Cisco is proud that our employees have played leading roles in the creation of interoperability standards, just as they have invented many of the foundational technologies used in the global data network. As a result of their efforts, Cisco has a portfolio of telecom and networking patents, including patents required to implement widely used interoperability standards, that is second to none.
While we have been at the forefront of networking technology, we recognize that our customers want technically excellent products and products that work well together. For example, our unified communications customers often use Cisco products for voice and video, but products from our competitors for e-mail or instant messaging. They are sometimes frustrated when products they purchase from different vendors don’t work well together, or when using products from one vendor forces them to implement proprietary voice or video protocols that do not enjoy broad industry support. In unified communications, as in other areas, collaboratively developed standards are a common language that products made by different vendors can use to make their products work together, creating a better experience for customers.
I sat down with Bart and talked about the role of Cisco at ARTS and retail industry standards contribution.
ARTS (Association of Retail Technology Standards ) is the technical arm for industry standards for National Retail Federation. ARTS develop white papers, best practices and standards used in in-house retail solutions as well as vendor products.
Do you recall what it was like before email? Nah, me neither. If you were around for the pre-email/pre-personal computer era, you may recall sending someone a letter written using a pen and paper. The only way the letter would arrive safely was (and still is) to affix a stamp to it. Feels like ancient history now when it’s possible to email a message around the globe within a matter of moments.
Suffice it to say, technology has advanced the method and speed at which we communicate. But innovation hasn’t happened in a vacuum; the standards governing the technology industry have evolved, too. Just imagine what your digital life would be like if we didn’t create standards. Would you want to put postage stamps on your email messages?
Of course, the question is, how do you balance innovation with standards? Without standards, you may miss out on the brilliant innovations that have come before (security and a framework that keeps things running smoothly, to name a couple). But rely too heavily on standards and you miss out on future innovation.
In our continuing coverage of the Seven Myths Around the Good-Enough Network on Silicon Angle, we explore myth number four--The Standards Myth.
Widely deployed from the core to the edge, IP/MPLS has achieved huge success as a mature, standards-based technology now deployed by virtually every service provider worldwide. As a result, the industry has chosen to extend IP/MPLS and develop a transport profile called MPLS-TP (MPLS Transport Profile). MPLS-TP is the packet transport technology of choice being developed by the IETF to allow service providers to cost effectively migrate existing transport networks to packet based solutions.
Recently EANTC conducted an MPLS-TP Interoperability Event which focused on testing and demonstrating interoperability of key IP/MPLS and Carrier Ethernet features between multiple vendor platforms. This represented a critical technology demonstration for service providers as they begin their migration to packet transport networks.
There has been a lot of buzz recently about a second OAM (Operations, Administration, and Maintenance) solution for MPLS-TP that will cause interoperability problems between MPLS-TP and MPLS. It is accurate that there is an alternative OAM based on ITU-T Y.1731 (Ethernet OAM) proposed by a number of vendors and countries and indeed, it will cause interoperability issues. As a strong believer in standards, I certainly hope that a second approach does not occur because vendors and customers do not need the additional cost burden that a lack of interoperability causes. The fact is that only the draft recommendation for MPLS-TP OAM based on Y.1731 has begun the first step in a very long approval ITU process -- but nothing more – and in my estimates will take well over a year and could easily take up to two years to standardize. IETF MPLS OAM is widely deployed in MPLS networks today and will simply be extended as MPLS-TP is deployed as a next generation transport solution. In fact, recent interoperability testing of MPLS-TP took place at the MPLS World Congress earlier this month in Paris.
I believe that after careful consideration most operators will see the benefit of having a single end-to-end methodology to operate and manage converged packet optical transport networks, which MPLS-TP using MPLS OAM provides. Operators who select another method that is perceived to meet their short term needs now my ultimately learn that it fails to provide everything they had expected, and that having multiple OAM methods (one for Ethernet and another for MPLS) is not cost effective. It will be interesting to see what happens moving forward. At the very least, operators should make an informed decision on which approach is right for them.