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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 | 7:54:55 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.
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.
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...

..

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.





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.
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.
optomyth
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50%
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.
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