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Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
8/22/2001
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Analysts agree that Ethernet has a long road ahead before it overtakes Sonet in metro area networks (MANs). But just what flavor of Ethernet will prevail, how long it will take before it becomes widely deployed, and where, is still being hotly debated.

Marian Stasney, senior analyst with The Yankee Group, published a report yesterday saying that, while service providers are certainly considering Ethernet as a low-cost option for delivering high-speed access in metro networks, actual deployments are still thin on the ground (Yankees See Rosy Gig-E Future).

“Eventually, Ethernet will take over in metro,” says Stasney. “But [that's] at least seven to 10 years down the road.”

Stasney cites several barriers to widespread deployment of Ethernet in the near term. Although Ethernet equipment is much cheaper to purchase and maintain than Sonet gear -- thus saving on initial capital expenditures and operational costs -- the fiber infrastructure needed to support Ethernet services in the metro is still far from ubiquitous.

Further, metro Ethernet applications like voice over IP and storage networking are still immature, making carriers less willing to adopt a pure Ethernet approach in the near future.

”Service providers trying voice over IP say that quality varies substantially between vendors’ gear,” says Stasney. “I’m not sure end users are comfortable with using pure Ethernet for storage yet, either. Even greenfield Ethernet players are being asked to provide services other than Ethernet to handle these services.”

There is also a tremendous amount of Sonet already installed in most carrier networks. Some estimates show that there are at least 100,000 Sonet rings operating in the U.S. and possibly twice that number of SDH rings operating outside the U.S., according to Michael Howard, co-founder and principal analyst with Infonetics Research Inc.

Both Stasney and Howard agree that cutbacks in capital spending mean service providers won't lay massive quantities of fiber, or rip out older Sonet infrastructure, to deploy a technology that may not be able to generate revenue right away.

No hard numbers from the report have been released to the public yet, but Stasney says she is basing her research on conversations with 30 to 40 Ethernet, Sonet, resilient packet ring (RPR), and wave division multiplexing (WDM) equipment vendors, as well as data that was collected for another Yankee Group report on service providers, which hasn’t yet been published.

Other analysts agree with her basic premise. Chris Nicoll, vice president at Current Analysis, and Mark Lutkowitz, VP of optical networking research at Communications Industry Researchers Inc., both say they agree that Sonet will continue to dominate the metro for at least the next three to five years.

“This is probably the first time that I can say that I agree with Yankee,” says Lutkowitz. “The rate at which Sonet gear becomes obsolete is very slow. That stuff will be around for another 30 years. There’s no question that Sonet is here to stay.”

But Lutkowitz seems a bit leery of the specifics of The Yankee Group report: “Projecting the market seven to 10 years is ridiculous."

Fellow analysts may also quibble with Stasney on another point. She is bullish on the prospect of pure Ethernet eventually becoming the technology du jour in the metro, while others say that some combination of Ethernet over Sonet, or even the emerging packet technologies like RPR, will rule.

“It’s hard to say which technology will win out,” says Stasney. “RPR will likely be extremely important, but with Ethernet over Sonet you lose benefits of both technologies.” Analysts who disagree point to specific examples to back up their case.

Ocular Networks Inc. and Native Networks Ltd., which both offer Ethernet over Sonet, are getting serious attention from service providers,” says Nicoll from Current Analysis. “But companies like Atrica Inc. and Extreme Networks Inc., pure Ethernet guys, are finding legacy carriers a harder nut to crack. There aren’t that many Cogent Communications Inc. or Yipes Communications Inc.-type providers out there for them.”

- Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading
http://www.lightreading.com

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optomyth
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optomyth,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:54:07 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
Original:
So many times <50ms seems excessive. Even for voice. Look at wireless. So many times you lose more than 50ms of transmission and people seem to accept it just fine.

On considering large bandwidths, though I'm not so sure. With WDM these days it seems we are packing more and more bits over a single fiber. Given a 64 wavelength transmission we may be receiving 640 megabits. Would we want to lose that transmission for more than 50ms? Please explain an acceptible timeframe or way to recover such a huge loss.

Response:
I just can't buy this "reasoning". I don't think you could find a single person that would find wireless quality to be acceptable for a wired phone. People "accept it just fine" because their choice is to live with the poor performance of wireless or to pull over and find a payphone. That's a far cry from wireless quality being acceptable. It's ok when you're located in an antenna farm, but there are all sorts of places where even holding the call is a challenge. If you think for a femtosecond that you'll be able to sell a "carrier class" system for voice and data customers that are connected by copper or fiber and deliver wireless quality, you are profoundly mistaken.

Sorry if you feel put upon, but that was a ludicrous line of reasoning the first time it was advanced, and further repetition has not enhanced the argument.

Response to Response:

You can't find a single person? Try millions of people. Smart ass! Obviously people do buy sub 50ms voice grade service all around the world. The market demonstrates acceptance or they wouldn't buy it. Of course they want better service but they're not willing to pay for it so you get what you pay for.

If you had read my next paragraph that you conveniently didn't include in your response you'd see I was asking about a case requiring high speed protection switching. But of course you didn't want to address it because your "reasoning" may be limited to be argumentative. Please be a little more contructive and address the point.

The point being there are multiple types of services with sub 50ms services and others less stringent. As for high capacity fiber please explain why we should relax the current standard? Please give an acceptable time and reason for a slower protection switch. This is a serious issue.

Be constructive or shut your smartass mouth.
tintin
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tintin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:54:09 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
Shulerdude,

I think there is something missing on your desk: a calculator !?

Compute the average Cost of a spoke in Metro Access Ring with an ethernet-switch (MPLS-enabled) + 1 lambda drop OADM.
Then compare it to the average Cost of a OC-48 RPR card + system.

Then multiply this by eight and then compare the numbers...

These are the symptoms of high OEO component cost for RPR, and it is not surprising.

And BTW, the RPR/DPT solution gives you 8 times less aggregate bandwidth than CWDM does...

While i agree that RPR/DPT may be an interesting technology for some applications, hub and spoke is definitely not where it makes economic sense (learn this new word: e-co-no-mic).

Tintin.
jmd
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jmd,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:54:37 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
Seriously, I've yet to see the business case to justify Ethernet. I've seen vendor 'claims' about it but nobody has shown some actual numbers and I'm not in the frame of mind to just accept a bunch of vendor 'claims'.

FYI, I've been posting this on LR for most of the summer and nobody has yet to rub my face in a business case. Please, lay it out for me so I can shut up and go away already.
flanker
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flanker,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:54:49 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
...The 50msec criteria refers to a switching time that is experienced when a SONET transport service actually FAILS. That is, this is the amount of time required to switch from the "working path" to the "protection path"...

You seem to be saying 50ms is simply the time the light takes to travel down what is the protection path of possibly longer distance than the working path in a bidirectional ring. For instance if you sever segment A in a SONET ring, you need to route the signal via segment b, c and d, which might take a few ms to restore.

I agree this has nothing to do with TDM voice quality. No PTT or major carrier would accept the jitter, loss or delay associated with a wireless system.





Two
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Two,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:54:51 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
A commonly sited statistic is from Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions. They studied the causes of fiber system outages from 1992-1995 (before SONET ring protection became popular)

Failure cause:
51% Fiber cable dig-ups (backhoe fade)
24% Fiber non-dig-ups (arial/electronics -- i.e. a repeater fails)
15% Other causes or Equipment Failure (operator errors)

That's why it takes a lot of effort to develop "5 nines" redundant systems. (out of service for < 5 minutes/year)

Hope this helps...

..

godbox
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godbox,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:54:52 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
Fiber cut type failures may be relatively uncommon
(though I have heard that even their frequency
is several tens per year).

What about other stuff like

- Hardware or software upgrade in any one of
the thousands of line cards in the network ?
(counting over all the cards in the network
this effectively occurs tens of thousands of times
a year or even more and some of the outages
are for several minutes or hours even.
How many boxes support OIR, hitless upgrades,
etc ?

- What about any administrative resets etc
in one or more equipment that are often required
when things go wrong (no vendor's equipment
is perfect you know also there is misconfiguration, human error etc etc).

- In a mix of carrier class and enterprise
equipment how many boxes support hitless (to
other users) re-provisioning etc ?

If you add up the cumulative effects of these
and similar factors over the entire network
the number of service hits is tens of thousands
of times a year if not more and hence one can
realize the value of each "hit" being required
to be 50ms or less. Multiple hits can add
up not just linearly but have a compounded effect
on total outage time.
optomyth
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optomyth,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:54:55 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
So many times <50ms seems excessive. Even for voice. Look at wireless. So many times you lose more than 50ms of transmission and people seem to accept it just fine.

On considering large bandwidths, though I'm not so sure. With WDM these days it seems we are packing more and more bits over a single fiber. Given a 64 wavelength transmission we may be receiving 640 megabits. Would we want to lose that transmission for more than 50ms? Please explain an acceptible timeframe or way to recover such a huge loss.
fk
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fk,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:54:55 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
So many times <50ms seems excessive. Even for voice. Look at wireless. So many times you lose more than 50ms of transmission and people seem to accept it just fine.

I just can't buy this "reasoning". I don't think you could find a single person that would find wireless quality to be acceptable for a wired phone. People "accept it just fine" because their choice is to live with the poor performance of wireless or to pull over and find a payphone. That's a far cry from wireless quality being acceptable. It's ok when you're located in an antenna farm, but there are all sorts of places where even holding the call is a challenge. If you think for a femtosecond that you'll be able to sell a "carrier class" system for voice and data customers that are connected by copper or fiber and deliver wireless quality, you are profoundly mistaken.

Sorry if you feel put upon, but that was a ludicrous line of reasoning the first time it was advanced, and further repetition has not enhanced the argument.
jshuler
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jshuler,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:54:57 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
You must not be a customer. Or if you are, you aren't talking to the right vendors...
jshuler
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jshuler,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:54:57 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
RPR has significant advantages even in hub-and-spoke networks, due to its use of both sides of the ring for both protected and non-protected traffic, and its ability to stat mux traffic into the entire bandwidth. Some RPR implementations (Luminous) can even provide the TDM circuits within that stat-muxed bandwidth, which means no pre-allocation of circuit vs. data bandwidth (STS-1s or VTs) and no wasted, partially full pipes. And yes, those circuits are stratum timed. In addition, data bandwidth can be oversubscribed, vastly multiplying the revenue per unit cost on the ring. So your arguments are red herrings.
optomyth
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optomyth,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:54:57 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
Any predictions or time frame on the potential for an all optical core competing with the new sales of both SONET and Ethernet pushing them to the edge?

Of course tremendous technology achievements must be made and the inevitable standards addressing protection switching among other things must be developed, but new optical layer 1 products may displace SONET and Ethernet at the core, hopefully, in the not too distant future.

- Opto
lightmaster
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lightmaster,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:54:59 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
The debate about the need for 50ms has been held many times before we got to packet rings. We had it in ATM and we had it in the DWDM realm. The bottom line is that many carriers differentiated themselves when they introduced SONET using 50ms resortation as a benchmark of reliability, and sold it to their business users as an obsolute neccesity. Anyone who backs off on it gives their competitors sales team ammunition to label the other providers network as less reliable.

It may be a dumb reason for holding onto a requirement, but that doesn't mean it's not real. Sorry to break the news, but engineers don't run the world.

This point, however, is moot. 50ms resortation is the easy part and will be adopted into the RPR standard. The ability to carry synchronous voice traffic is much more difficult, and much more important to the adoption of RPR as a feasible solution for larger carriers who get most of their revenue from voice. This is going to take YEARS to standardize and more years to sell.
flanker
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flanker,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:55:12 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
...The ability to carry synchronous traffic is the harder part. Every voice call has to be serviced sychronously (in the case of current TDM, every 125 microseconds), which means that you can't just have the normal free-for-all in an ethernet network...

agree
mma
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mma,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:55:17 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
"50ms restoration is key to support legacy TDM/voice networks. This kept calls (hundreds to thousands of them) from dropping and causing the Class 4/5 switch to melt down. There are probably a couple of other reasons, but maintaining calls (or Tandem Links) was the main reason."

My recollection is that hit timing on analog switch interfaces is 200 ms and that on digital switch interfaces the signaling should be frozen after an out of frame for two seconds until a carrier group alarm is declared to disconnect the connections. Therefore, I don't think that the 50 ms requirement derives from switched network trunking.

More likely it is due to either signaling oddities with operator services, coin services or voiceband special services, but it might be due to the effects of noise bursts or dropouts on analog modem behaviour. Do the services and signaling types which drove the requirement still exist, at least in sufficient number to justify the 50 ms requirement?
jmd
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jmd,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:55:23 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
I've yet to see the business case completely laid out that justifies the equipment purchases required by the metro providers.
tintin
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tintin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:55:25 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
FiberFan,

"Ethernet vs. SONET. From all of my reading the answer to this question seems to be RPR."

RPR/DPT (aka IEEE 802.17) may make sense for a ring topology where most nodes are peers and traffic patterns are not predominantly star-like.
But it doesn't make too much sense for hub-and-spoke topologies (which is typical for Metro Access Rings), because it raises the cost of the spokes significantly (and unnecessarily).
The primary reason for this is the overwhelming cost of OEO components needed for RPR interfaces.

Tintin.
mrs5c
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mrs5c,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:55:26 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
Does anyone know the typical $/MB pricing that cogent, telseon, etc. are charging? Typical RBOC tariff rates for Sonet local loop services are between $10-20/MB depending on the speed plus whatever $ they charge for Inet access. This typically puts the rate upwards of $300-$400/MB. Are all the metro CAPs charging Cogent type rates $10/MB for local + internet access? I could see the trend for Ethernet CAP moving faster if the price points are this low.
lightmaster
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lightmaster,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:55:34 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
50 ms restoration for packet rings is the easy part with respect to voice. The ability to carry synchronous traffic is the harder part. Every voice call has to be serviced sychronously (in the case of current TDM, every 125 microseconds), which means that you can't just have the normal free-for-all in an ethernet network.

All of the standards are addressing the transport part, but there are equal issues in the switching elements for voice traffic. SONET elements (ADMs, Cross Connects) have delay in the hundreds of microsecond range, while ethernet switches are in the microseconds. If this isn't fixed, echo cancellation becomes a huge issue. And then there's jitter and jitter buffering issues...

The standards are working on all of this, but it will take time. Standards also have to be developed for circuit emulation for T1s so you can develop equipment that carrys PBX traffic for the MILLIONs of customers who don't want to buy new VoIP equipment to suit the service provider.

Once all that is done, you have the carrier trials to proove in the new technology (about a year), then a rollout over time. The bottom line is that a 5 to 10 year adoption curve for packet rings in large carrier networks, i.e ones that carry voice and make money (not Yipes) would actually be a pretty good success story, equivalent to the success of SONET.

Everyone wants the world to change overnight...it doesn't.



FiberFan
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FiberFan,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:55:36 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
MMA asked the question;

What was the reason for the 50 ms restoration switching time requirement? Does anyone recall?

50ms restoration is key to support legacy TDM/voice networks. This kept calls (hundreds to thousands of them) from dropping and causing the Class 4/5 switch to melt down. There are probably a couple of other reasons, but maintaining calls (or Tandem Links) was the main reason.

This discussion thread is very interesting. Ethernet vs. SONET. From all of my reading the answer to this question seems to be RPR.

Any thoughts on this?

FiberFan
mma
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mma,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:55:36 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
"A maximum tolerence of 50 ms for any restoration
scheme will ultimately inhibit the adoption of ethernet."

What was the reason for the 50 ms restoration switching time requirement? Does anyone recall?
tintin
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tintin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:55:37 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
"It is impossible for ethernet to solve voice
carrier-class service requirement unless IEEE
802.3 working group modify ethernet so much to look like sonet. (With all the in-band signaling)
Prove me wrong.Anyone?"

Why do you want to solve resiliency at layer 2?
Ethernet over Sonet, Ethernet over Lambda, or IEEE 802.17,... all of them offer sub-50 ms resiliency.

Just don't use Spanning Tree (not even its grand-son) and your problem is solved. :-)

Tintin.

jmd
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jmd,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:55:38 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
Of course itGÇÖs going to take some time GÇô it requires what is commonly referred to as business case. You see not that long ago you needed to build a business case in order for things to move ahead, then along came a big party where everybody said the f* with business cases I gonna get my piece before somebody else does.

Are we all so focused on instant billions that we canGÇÖt be a bit more patient? Geez!

The SONET v Ethernet debate is over already, weGÇÖre just waiting for the business case to mature. Last year you didnGÇÖt need a business case to convince somebody to buy into it, this year you do.

jmd
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jmd,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:55:39 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
It may look and act like SONET in some ways but it will be called Ethernet. People have decided it's easier to get there from the Ethernet base camp. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
flanker
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flanker,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:55:40 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
Ethernet isnt a solution for corporations with global private line network needs.
jones1
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jones1,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:55:40 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
I would like to share a few critical considerations before adopting the metro-ethernet
standard.

If the metro-ethernet is base on today' s pure ethernet implementation, there is no way it can
achieve that kind of protection and restoration scheme offered by SONET. This scheme is so important to justify carrier-class service which
primary dedicated to a voice-carrier network.

A maximum tolerence of 50 ms for any restoration
scheme will ultimately inhibit the adoption of ethernet.

It is impossible for ethernet to solve voice
carrier-class service requirement unless IEEE
802.3 working group modify ethernet so much to look like sonet. (With all the in-band signaling)
Prove me wrong.Anyone?

uncle_optics@yahoo.com
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uncle_optics@yahoo.com,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:55:41 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
AMEN!!!

Or maybe at least create a PR section of the report and you can put Yankee and RHK in there.

Here's a Tag Line:

Will Shill For Food (or in RHK's case, pre-IPO stock)
hisles
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hisles,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:55:41 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
To Lightreading

please keep Yankee off this sight

This is suppossedly to be for intelligent forward thinking people...

It isn't about Ethernet V Sonet but the integration of Ethernet into the Broadband IP strategy of existing networks.

A lot of buzz words start happening like provisioning, mpls etc etc and if i was anymore specific the boys at Yanks would publish it

But then since I wasn't paying them for writing it maybe not.....
uncle_optics@yahoo.com
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uncle_optics@yahoo.com,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 7:55:43 PM
re: Report Stirs Ethernet vs Sonet Debate
Yo Mama is soooo fat that.....

oh yeah????


Well, you Mama is so ugly that.....

I love it.

Hey Yankee.....stop wasting your time interviewing the vendors!!!! Then again, everyone knows that you offer the best PR that money can buy so if you didn't rely on the vendors for your information then you'd be out of business!!!!
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