By Stan Hubbard, Heavy Reading
During the past year, competition in the Ethernet services market has expanded beyond a focus on service types, technical details and coverage to include an increased emphasis on service performance and the service wrap. Numerous senior carrier experts who are members of Heavy Reading's global Ethernet Executive Council publicly have agreed that the battle ground today is around assuring performance and improving the quality of the customer experience.
The growing emphasis on service assurance has coincided with emergence of enhanced Ethernet platforms based on the Metro Ethernet Forum's (MEF) Carrier Ethernet 2.0 specifications covering three top areas of concern to operators: manageability, multiple classes of service and interconnection. In late January, the MEF announced the first round of network equipment vendors–20 in all–who have achieved Carrier Ethernet 2.0 product certification. And in April, the MEF intends to announce the first round of carriers offering Carrier Ethernet 2.0-certified services.
Performance assurance and other aspects of service management–including flow-through provisioning–are only going to become more important as operators transition from Carrier Ethernet 1.0 networks and services toward Carrier Ethernet 2.0 networks and services. Whereas Carrier Ethernet 1.0 services generally have involved limited management on a single provider network, higher-performance Carrier Ethernet 2.0 services are characterized by advanced manageability, multiple classes of service and application-oriented SLAs supported over potentially multiple interconnected provider networks.
During Ethernet Expo Americas in November, numerous experts from tw telecom, Cox, Equinix, Global Capacity, Inteliquent, Level 3, Sidera, XO and other carriers highlighted the need for operators to have real-time visibility into the performance of their services on an end-to-end basis and to share performance statistics with their wholesale and retail customers through web service portals. This is no longer a “nice-to-have” capability. It's increasingly becoming a strategic necessity for competitive and other business reasons.
Among other things, real-time visibility helps operators (1) be proactive in troubleshooting service issues before they rise to the level of violating SLAs, (2) assure customers that the solutions they purchase support the criticality of the applications running on their networks, and (3) gain valuable insight into the customer experience that can open up the door to a more consultative relationship.
The following are a couple of new resources that provide more information on the growing importance of real-time service visibility, carrier opinions about end-to-end service management opportunities and challenges, and other Carrier Ethernet services and technology market trends.
- Ethernet Service Reporting: Defining the Customer Experience — a Light Reading video that includes an interview of InfoVista Product Marketing Manager for Business Services Solutions Christopher Cullan and comments from me on the topic of service management.
- SDN, Carrier Ethernet 2.0 & Cloud Converge — a new Heavy Reading report being released in the first part of February. This 37-page report captures the perspectives of nearly 35 service provider experts who shared their opinions on a wide range of software defined networking (SDN), Carrier Ethernet 2.0, and cloud service and technology topics during Ethernet Expo Americas. Please contact me at [email protected] if you are interested in learning more about the report or purchasing a copy.
We also will have numerous sessions dealing with service management and additional CE 2.0 and SDN topics during Ethernet Europe 2013 that will be held jointly with the MEF during 16 — 17 April in Frankfurt, Germany.
Hubbard serves as a Senior Analyst at Heavy Reading. He is a communications professional with 15 years of experience in wireline-related business analysis and strategic marketing. His current focus is on carrier Ethernet services and equipment markets and software defined networking for carriers. He chairs the world's largest carrier Ethernet services & technology event, Light Reading‘s Ethernet Expo Americas, as well as the longstanding Ethernet Europe event. Hubbard also coordinates Heavy Reading's Ethernet Executive Council program involving senior service provider experts worldwide, and he frequently speaks at other shows and customer meetings.
This is part two of three in our guest blog series on carrier Ethernet. This series starts with a video blog post on what's to come for carrier Ethernet performance management.