MEF President Discusses the Future of Ethernet

    Posted by Ryan O'Grady on Mar 24, 2015 9:20:55 AM

    While at Mobile World Congress, Global Telecoms Business (GTB) interviewed Nan Chen, the President of the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF). Here's what he had to say:GTBTV

    Brian Dolby: I'm joined by Nan Chen who is the president of the MEF. Nan, welcome to Netscout here in Barcelona. First question: you've taken Ethernet from virtually a theory, into global domination. Tell us some of the highlights of the MEF and its work over the last few years.

    Nan Chen: Thank you for the compliment. We are obviously very proud of how Ethernet has grown from enterprise technology to the Carrier Ethernet which is known today. The MEF started in 2001 and we started from zero. 2012 marked the first year Carrier Ethernet bandwidth globally surpassed the entire legacy data bandwidths combined. Finally, Ethernet bandwidth is projected to be 75% of the overall global business bandwidth by 2017, so we’re obviously very proud of it.

    Brian Dolby: And of course it's an integral part of LTE.

    Nan Chen: Absolutely, because of the standards we have defined, every single LTE backhaul is Ethernet based and we see even more growth in the mobile industry. To a certain degree, it's also attributed to many of our industry colleagues that have contributed a lot. We’re proud of the Ethernet and being able to deliver all the mobile capabilities that we see today.

    Brian Dolby: Yes, and of course LTE networks are growing rapidly around the world aren't they? So nearly every day there's more and more Ethernet.

    Nan Chen: That's right; it’s music to our ears obviously.

    Brian Dolby: Just moving to fixed networks now; everyone is talking about SDN & NFV, is that an area for your organization?

    Nan Chen: Yes, in fact most of Ethernet growth we've seen both in fixed and wireless networks require a dynamic feature of Ethernet, and that's what we have started in the MEF body called Lifecycle Service Orchestration. It’s a new standard to control the Ethernet bandwidth and allow it to be dynamically manipulated. Our goal is to build global networks which will allow multiple carriers to deliver dynamic bandwidths across the globe. 

    Brian Dolby: Now we're here in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress, it gets bigger and bigger and they say it gets better as well. What for you are some of the big things this year?

    Nan Chen: It's actually pretty amazing to see a lot of the things here, not just the handset innovations, but also the ability to virtualize network functions. When you virtualize network functions, you not only reduce the cost of deployment, you also gain the agility to deploy services on both fixed and mobile networks. With that, you need a Lifecycle Service Orchestrator to manage the network, and we're really pleased to be a part of that overall momentum.

    Brian Dolby: So, some interesting insight there into the work of the MEF and also the increasing importance of Ethernet in the world that we all share and enjoy in terms of our communication.

    To watch the complete video interview, please click here.

    To learn more about CENX's Lifecycle Service Orchestration solutions, download the complimentary white paper: Service Orchestration for Next-Generation SDN & NFV Networks.

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    Topics: Service Orchestration, Ethernet, Metro Ethernet Forum

    5 Reasons Service Providers Rely on Off-Net Circuits

    Posted by Erica Watts on Jun 6, 2014 7:58:00 AM

    All service providers today rely on off-net circuits. Period.

    This can represent a massive recurring cost for which service providers have little to no visibility of performance and inventory, but are highly dependent on for service completion and to ensure an optimal customer experience across multiple carrier domains. The level of dependence on off-net circuits varies based on a few factors: quantity of existing wireline assets, location of existing asset, and the enterprise customers being served.

    Here's why service providers are so dependent on off-net circuit:

    1. Variable service definitions– Every service provider has its own unique Ethernet service definition based on a myriad of parameters that provide great service differentiation, but spawn unique configuration processes across different vendor equipment types.
    2. Manual inter-carrier ordering processes – Ordering between providers typically relies on lengthy manual processes – including order submission through disparate service provider portals assuming there is a common understanding of service attributes and definitions, and ongoing tracking.
    3. Limited inter-carrier inventory view – Inventory data from AVs is often limited to ordering process details so it’s virtually impossible to get a single real-time common view of Ethernet asset inventory serving all customers, regardless of provider.
    4. Inability to relate performance to SLAs – Ability to monitor service-impacting issues and relate this to SLAs is a challenge.
    5. Inaccurate billing reconciliation – As service providers transition from TDM-based circuits to Ethernet, they are often challenged to assure that the service turn-down and turn-up is accurately reflected in monthly access provider billing to them, and in their inventory systems to avoid significant cost leakage. How can service providers ensure that they are getting the bandwidth for which they are paying when using off-net Ethernet circuits?

    For more information on off-net circuits and inter-carrier Service Orchestration, check out our FREE white paper: How Does Inter-Carrier Service Orchestration Deliver Optimal Customer Experiences?

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    Topics: Ethernet

    Shedding Light on Off-Net Ethernet Circuits

    Posted by Administrator on Dec 9, 2013 7:47:00 AM

    Off-net vs. on-net. This is truly a discussion predicated on your vantage point.  Most service providers now rely on a combination of their own transport network (on-net services) combined with additional circuits provided by 3rd party access vendors. These out of network Ethernet circuits are considered off-net, resulting in complex Ethernet transport services that traverse multiple carrier boundaries.

    The extent to which service providers depend on off-net circuits varies wildly due to a range of factors –  regional vs. national or international footprint, limited metro assets, customer demands and more.  Let’s not forget the data center scenario.  This is where enterprises in one data center need quality guaranteed connectivity to their cloud services provider in a different data center, which could mean connecting via an off-net circuit supplied by an alternate access vendor. 

    It’s big business for alternate access providers providing these circuits, and for the service provider, it can be a significant recurring monthly expense. Service providers have a raft of OSS tools to manage their own on-net circuits.  Anything that is off-net – well, it’s a blind spot.  

    Here is what I mean.

    What happens when an off-net circuit goes down?  How do providers know it’s out of service – how can they determine which segment of the transport network is down?  Can they trust their inventory data to know which access vendor is responsible for that transport circuit, so they can take corrective action?  Does this impact their provider’s SLA?  What penalties are not being secured?   What about cost leakage around circuits that may no longer be in service but are still being billed, because there is no accurate means of tracking off-net circuit inventory?

    Let’s look at off-net services from an ordering perspective.  Some tier 1 service providers are generating upwards of 500-1000 orders per month for off-net Ethernet circuits.  Today, it’s a highly manual process between the operator and the alternate access provider, fraught with errors, inaccurate provisioning data, stalled processes, that result in an average 120 days to turn up an Ethernet circuit. The richness of Ethernet also brings differing service definitions that need to be reconciled between Ethernet access vendors and the service provider, adding further complexity to this problem. For the Ethernet access provider, it’s become a major drag on time to revenue, and a source of customer dissatisfaction. 

    Off-net inter-carrier Ethernet transport is here to stay – it will only get more complex and operational systems need to be architected to deal with it.  Software-defined networks compound the challenge even further by introducing different network types and new applications and virtualized network functions.

    This is where inter-carrier service orchestration comes in; bringing a new generation approach that transcends the boundaries of multiple carrier networks, and IP and next generation SDNs. The ability to derive off-net inventory data from a diverse set of data sources and types – excel, OSS, activation notices as example.  Then, provide an accurate and complete view of all Ethernet assets – both off-net and on-net. The ability to automate ordering processes between carriers using a combination of human emulation and automation techniques.  And importantly, the ability to manage SLA performance, with detailed fault sectionalization that determines AAV dependencies and factors in scheduled maintenance checks and so forth. Finally, better controls on cost leakage due to inaccurate billing reconciliation between Ethernet inventory and what’s actually in service. 

    It’s time to remove the blindfold and figure out what’s really going on in your transport network – inter-carrier service orchestration is  key to providing this comprehensive actionable view across on-net and off-net circuits.

    To learn more about Service Orchestration and how it can connect network operators to their data services, watch the video "What is Service Orchestration?".

    What is Service Orchestration? CENX Video

    Topics: Ethernet

    Carrier Ethernet – Love it or hate it?

    Posted by Administrator on Sep 17, 2013 7:37:00 AM

    Network transformation is a loaded term.  Let’s face it – everything needs to transform and adapt to survive, but let’s peel back the network onion a bit.  If you are a service provider, there is an underlying technology transformation that is impacting virtually every operational process in your network.  Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s about moving from the dinosaur known as TDM to Carrier Ethernet.  This transformation is driven by a number of factors:

    •        4G
    •        Deployment of fiber infrastructure
    •        Improved connectivity – bigger, faster, on demand
    •        Cloud data centers – yep, they are using Ethernet too.

    So what’s the big deal?  The TDM world is a homogeneous one with few variations.  Exactly the same DS1 backhaul service definition, exactly the same DS3 handoffs, exactly the same service OAM (either up or down and nothing in between).  You get the picture – a simple and consistent world , and one with little room for differentiation.

    The Ethernet world, on the other hand, is predicated on variable parameters, heterogeneous services and topologies.   Many different backhaul service types including classes of service, VLAN mapping, fiber, small cell, and more.  Many different handoff schemes.  Many different types of SLAs per service or application type.  Not to mention, many variations in network vendor equipment type and attributes.  Now a complex and highly variable world.  But one that provides ample opportunity for service differentiation.  And a market that where applications such mobile backhaul, data center interconnect, cloud access services and enterprise Ethernet services will fuel spending of $100B by 2017 – all running over Carrier Ethernet.   So what’s the problem? 

    The OSS systems and tools deployed today are based on legacy TDM technology.  They can’t easily handle 50 - 80 different types of Ethernet service.  The pain being felt by network operations and management teams at tier 1 operators is significant:

    •        60 - 120 days to turn up an Ethernet circuit
    •        More than 30% of first attempt circuit turn-ups fail
    •        1000s of person days spent designing and executing one-off inventory audits
    •        1000s of person days chewed up chasing SLA penalties

    The solution is not a trivial one – the sunk investment in OSS tools is significant, upgrades and overhauls will cost millions and have an impact on services over a long upgrade period of several years.

    It’s time to consider something different – a new generation of software that embraces the complexity of Ethernet and gives you the tools to take advantage of the inherent flexibility and service differentiation capabilities that Carrier Ethernet has to offer.  

    To learn more about the problems with how the existing Operations Support Systems (OSS) are architected, and possibilities for bridging the gap between legacy network infrastructure and next-generation innovations; download the FREE white paper "Service Orchestration for Next-Generation SDN & NFV Networks".

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    Topics: Ethernet