Recently, I hyperbolized Carrier Ethernet's ‘world domination.' However, statistics show that that is actually not too far off, particularly in terms of Ethernet services' global revenue projections and port growth. Infonetics Research forecasts 300% revenue growth for Ethernet services by 2018, and Vertical Systems Group estimates that there will be one million Ethernet ports in the U.S. alone by 2018. Clearly, there is money to be made from both wholesale service providers and enterprises purchasing these services to take advantage of their flexibility, cost-savings and ubiquity.
Getting these revenues should be easy for communications service providers (CSPs). The Metro Ethernet Forum first standardized Ethernet services and has since evolved that to support interconnected, managed, business-class connectivity services. So, what is left for CSPs to do?
It turns out that there is a lot of work to finish and a lot of challenges to overcome. Challenges include the time required to turn up new Carrier Ethernet services, especially if it involves an off-net (or out-of-franchise) location, access technology availability (fiber, microwave, copper, coax), and the management and operation of these services, which is exacerbated by the gap between specified best practices versus current implementation (or lack thereof) of these best practices.
Considering that the primary business driver I hear from our CSP customers is time-to-market and, by extension, time-to-revenue, anything that stands in the way of getting Carrier Ethernet 2.0 services deployed, running and billed is a target for elimination or optimization. When it comes to management, specifically service assurance and network performance management, the standards (e.g. MEF Specification 35) should help. Yet, MEF 35 is being adopted slowly as network equipment providers find implementing its broad scope time-consuming; they struggle to determine which part of the standard to focus on first. End customers are asking for the standards, but there is confusion amongst operators regarding which network and service performance monitoring and SLA metrics to expose and how. This situation leaves CSPs with the arduous task of normalizing the multiple, vendor-unique (sometimes proprietary) ways of monitoring Carrier Ethernet performance. It is an expensive and time-consuming task, and ultimately delays that critical time-to-revenue driver.
The present solution is to take advantage of sophisticated software that bridges the gap between the future standards and vendor-specific implementations. Perhaps it's Y.1731 synthetic test probes, vendor-proprietary OAM, transport-level OAM or even moving up to the IP layer with shadow routers and TWAMP. This normalized visibility is the key ingredient to reaping the financial rewards available from the wave of Carrier Ethernet demand in the global marketplace. Having such a solution cuts down on the implementation time for service delivery, while the market continues to coalesce on the MEF management standards.
When speaking with one of our customers, I heard an obvious, yet startlingly simple revelation: the biggest request from their customers is the ability to see information when the customer wants: on-demand, in near real-time. They don't want to wait. Having that capability is enthralling (our customer's words, not mine) because today's digital, consumer-based world is short on patience. It's like tracking a package — they want to know what's going on with their important assets. CSPs that can provide that visibility, with a standards-based approach, stand to reap the greatest financial rewards.
To learn more about this topic, I invite you to join me at GEN14's Unlocking Revenues with Standardized CE 2.0 Wholesale E-Access Services panel. Hosted by Rosemary Cochran, principal and co-founder of Vertical Systems Group, the session will explore the full lifecycle of an E-Access service; I will speak alongside participants from Time Warner Cable, Iometrix, Veryx and Verizon.
I look forward to seeing you next week and invite you to contact InfoVista if you are interested in setting up a meeting at the show!