The Three Dimensions of Carrier Ethernet Service Assurance

06/15/2011 |

Christopher Cullan

By Christopher Cullan, Product Marketing Manager, Business Services Solutions, InfoVista

The market for Carrier Ethernet services is proving to be the communication service provider’s (CSP’s) salvation in this environment of revenue and margin pressure. The popularity of Carrier Ethernet stems from its ability to enable a more rapid and efficient delivery of both the bandwidth and service requirements of today’s businesses.

But in order to realize the profitability that Carrier Ethernet services present, CSPs are recognizing a growing need to give careful consideration to the management of operating costs.

Managing costs and increasing revenues are made possible with MEF-aligned performance management. Simply stated, customization costs the CSP’s IT organization.Effective cost management is supported through the use of standards which help reduce the need to customize with respect to the OSS framework. In the realm of Carrier Ethernet services, the standards codified by the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) represent opportunities to standardize not only on the service implementation itself, but also the management of these services. The MEF has led the effort to ensure carrier grade service, equipment interoperability, and compliance with management requirements across multiple carrier networks serving end-user enterprises. This effort has been a critical reason for the success and explosive growth in Carrier Ethernet services that the industry is witnessing.

In addition to helping CSPs manage costs by minimizing cost operations and IT costs with standards-based performance models and self-service end user interfaces, implementing an effective MEF-aligned network performance management and Carrier Ethernet service assurance solution will aid in the quest for new business by differentiating a CSP’s Carrier Ethernet offering from the competition.  CSPs can leverage an MEF-aligned service assurance solution to generate additional revenues by providing customers with enhanced visibility, hands-on troubleshooting, and premium reporting capabilities.

The biggest benefit of aligning with MEF standards is that it helps ensure that a CSP’s Carrier Ethernet services are delivering the value that their customers desire.  Compliance with MEF specifications is especially critical with regard to effective performance management, specifically operations, administration and maintenance (OAM). The right performance management solution will take into account the defined services and attributes—and monitor them end-to-end—leveraging the standards of the MEF and other relevant standards bodies such as the ITU and IEEE. In fact, the MEF is currently drafting a new specification to clarify the performance management definitions and functions and the relationship between the MEF PM Standards and ITU-T which will include a new standard MIB.

A “resource-centric” approach to managing dynamic technologies such as Carrier Ethernet simply won’t do, as it lacks the full visibility to understand the relationships between quality (from the perspective of the user) and performance (from the perspective of the technology) to ensure customer satisfaction and SLA protection. Instead, we suggest you look into a “service performance assurance” approach, including proactive analysis and preemptive alerting that map customers to their service levels and deliver visibility into relationships between end-to-end performance and Carrier Ethernet Network Elements (CE-NEs).

There are three dimensions to effective performance management of Carrier Ethernet services requiring three types of key performance indicators (KPIs):

  • Resource KPIs for monitoring resource capacity (CE-NEs) per MEF 15 guidelines
  • Traffic KPIs for transport bandwidth profiling and usage analysis based on MEF 10.2, 15, and 17 guidelines
  • End-to-End KPIs for end-to-end Carrier Ethernet service monitoring per the MEF 10.2 service attributes and MEF 17 OAM guidelines

These three dimensions are all needed in order to confirm service levels, anticipate capacity limitations, and detect problems as they develop, which will in turn enable the prioritization of indentified performance issues, proactive troubleshooting, end-to-end service level management, and proactive capacity planning based on customer, service, and resource impact.

If CSPs want to fully leverage Carrier Ethernet services to achieve cost containment and revenue growth, Carrier Ethernet service assurance is an essential ingredient. However, it will be wise to be cautious when choosing a performance management solution. Take time to ensure that it adheres to key industry standards like those from the MEF, so that you can fully realize all of the advantages possible with Carrier Ethernet services.

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