The MEF's Ralph Santitoro: Carrier Ethernet in the Cloud

Fujitsu's Ralph Santitoro discusses with the Metro Ethernet Forum his projects and why it promotes carrier Ethernet in the cloud

October 10, 2012

4 Min Read
The MEF's Ralph Santitoro: Carrier Ethernet in the Cloud

Ralph Santitoro, director of Carrier Ethernet market development at Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. , was recently elected to a fifth term on the MEF Board of Directors. As a founding board member of the forum 11 years ago, he has led and been involved with many key MEF endeavors. He spoke with Light Reading about a couple of his pet projects at the MEF.

Light Reading: What big MEF initiative are you working on right now?

Santitoro: The Carrier Ethernet for Cloud (CE4Cloud) project. Our objective is to have a specification come out next year. We used to call this project the Dynamic Responsive Ethernet project, but the marketing people got involved and corrected that. [AT&T Executive] Margaret Chiosi and I championed this idea at a board strategy meeting in December 2010, and we kicked off the project last year. It turned out timing was perfect because private cloud was just taking off.

The big challenge with outsourcing your private cloud to a service provider is how do you connect to that cloud? You don’t want to go over the public Internet. All the good things Carrier Ethernet has -- the protection and reliability we have built into it -- the public Internet doesn’t have, so Carrier Ethernet is the ideal solution. We think it’s something that can drive the private cloud market, and accelerate use of Carrier Ethernet.

Light Reading: What phase is CE4C at now?

Santitoro: We’re developing use cases using all the MEF service definitions -- E-line, E-LAN, E-Tree, E-Access-to support bandwidth on demand, one of the most important things for customers wanting cloud services. We’re working on defining how you increase the bandwidth, and then decrease it back to normal levels. We’re working on the APIs to go into customer portals to enable control of bandwidth on demand. The APIs also would let developers come in and change the service attributes, as in a software-defined network. We’re looking at other areas, too, like class of service for cloud connections.

Light Reading: You also created the MEF’s Carrier Ethernet Professional Certification program. How’s that going?

Santitoro: That program started a year ago June, and we’ve had over 300 people certified as MEF-CECP. The reason I wanted to create that program is there was no standard, vendor-neutral certification for professionals. You had Cisco certification for IP routing and some for Ethernet, but mostly enterprise Ethernet. The problem with that, which a lot of us in the industry see, is when you hire people, they either don’t know Carrier Ethernet, or know it based on the last company they worked for. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a manufacturer or a service provider. All these companies have their own vernacular.

So, now the MEF is not only certifying Carrier Ethernet, we’re certifying people, so when somebody talks about a UNI or an ENNI, they’re all talking about the same thing. It’s good for manufacturers, and good for service providers wanting to interconnect.

Light Reading: Is MEF-CEPC program is just for engineers?

Santitoro: The first certification program targets network professional, engineers, planners, network operations people and the like, but we’re working on a new certification targeting sales and marketing professionals. I always had the vision this would be a whole suite of certifications addressing different disciplines. A certification for sales professionals could help them identify applications that would be good for Carrier Ethernet. Light Reading: So, you’ve been on the MEF Board of Directors for the entire 11 years the forum has been around. How have forum dynamics changed during this time?

Santitoro: One of the reasons I’ve stayed with the MEF until now is that it is very collegial. I can work side by side with some of my biggest competitors, and we forget we’re with company A, B or C. What’s changed a lot is that in the early days the manufacturers were running the show. Some service providers attended, but they tended to be very much in listen-only mode.

Service providers often don’t want to talk too much about what they’re doing because they don’t want their competitors to know, but now they are much more involved, which helps because at the end of the day they are the ones delivering the service. Eleven years ago Ethernet service was an insignificant percentage of their overall revenue, if they even had it in their portfolios. Now, it’s a huge part of their revenue. Now, they have a bigger stake in the conversation.

— Dan O'Shea, special to Light Reading

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