As a card-carrying member of the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF), I truly believe and support the organization’s goals and many of its deliverables. In my university days, I wrote a paper comparing LAN technologies: token-ring to Ethernet. You can imagine how long ago that may have been, especially with the technical conclusion of the token-ring’s superiority (yes, I was later working for IBM). But, one item I recall stating in that paper was the ‘holy’-trinity of Ethernet’s success—ubiquity, the UNIX tie-in and simplicity.
Fast-forward to 2012, one can see the Carrier Ethernet environment getting more and more complex, with a myriad of technologies, vendors and standards. The question is: how does one manage such complexity while ensuring that market problems are addressed? Never mind multiple classes of service (Multi-CoS)—what about dynamically provisioned and configured networks to support the cloud? Perhaps this will be assisted by Carrier Ethernet 2.0 launched last week.
Regardless of all the different service types and implementation agreements, the vast majority of services I’ve seen deployed are P2P E-Lines (EPL or EVPL), often the building blocks of more complex services. This is certainly the case in Ethernet mobile backhaul today- given its architecture and, in most cases, its simple-port based connections. These P2P services have delivered their promised benefits. If you compare a TDM service that has been replaced with fiber-based access in the 100M to 1G range, many of the 3G+ smartphone bandwidth problems have been solved (at least where available). But, the law of diminishing returns is always present and bandwidth demand continues to escalate. So now, we see the need to better manage those “pipes”—enter Multi-CoS.
This isn’t new to networking or Carrier Ethernet, but it’s something that wasn’t part of the legacy T1/E1-based services world. The pure cost/capacity equation of port-based EVCs was more than enough to handle backhauling data traffic to date. Now the hope is that all of the great CoS-oriented work delivered by the MEF can actually be adopted!
The good news is better use of capacity, equating to more revenue/lower cost for the wholesaler, and the controlling of traffic and improving of end users’ quality of experience (QoE) for the mobile network operator. The bad news is that CoS is more complex and that complexity requires management.
It will be interesting to see the adoption rate of this implementation agreement and how the benefits are harvested while the complexity is addressed. Long live Ethernet!