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Carriers Face Ethernet 'Black Hole'

Ethernet may be a hot topic in telecom at the moment, but carriers face an OSS black hole when it comes to provisioning and billing for Ethernet-based services.

This was one of the main messages to come out of the Light Reading LIVE! event, "Ethernet Services: A Carrier Class," held in Atlanta last week (see Carriers Converge on Ethernet).

Presenters made a strong case for deploying Ethernet services, but the audience, containing representative from more than 100 carriers, voiced concerns that back-office systems to automate service fulfillment, assurance, and billing simply didn't exist at present. As a result, pioneers in this field faced the prospect of having to use manual processes to undertake these tasks -- something that would have an adverse effect on both operating costs and customer relations.

One attendee at the event, Fred Cook, principal network design engineer at Sprint Corp. (NYSE: FON), told Boardwatch that being first to offer Ethernet services had other downsides. Carriers might benefit from pent-up customer demand, but they faced paying twice as much for their equipment as competitors that hung back until volume shipments had started driving down prices.

Read the full story on Boardwatch. — Ray Le Maistre, International Editor, Boardwatch

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jAcKyChEn 12/4/2012 | 11:56:43 PM
re: Carriers Face Ethernet 'Black Hole'
OSS black hole ?!!!!

Cisco has all the answers for you guys - that is called CLI... integrate that with other softwares via your big head!! Why OSMINE when you can 'OS MINE'....
tmc1 12/4/2012 | 11:56:43 PM
re: Carriers Face Ethernet 'Black Hole' obviously you did not see TiMetra Networks demonstration of NMS for provisioning and managing ethernet based martini and VPLS services... nor did you see their demo of their advanced OAM features for these services. it was running in their booth at supercomm all week. many others saw it... perhaps you should look at their website:

http://www.timetra.com/product...
eyesright 12/4/2012 | 11:56:42 PM
re: Carriers Face Ethernet 'Black Hole' LR,

Once carriers implement ethernet (the mother of all commodities) how will they make money?

Once relagated to simple transport, carriers open the market to true ASP's...

gbennett 12/4/2012 | 11:56:39 PM
re: Carriers Face Ethernet 'Black Hole' ...because I heard the questions coming from the audience, and let me tell you this was a very upbeat audience looking for solid answers.

But the only answers the panel could give in this kind of environment were unavoidably trivial. This is not a criticism of the panel, because the scope of the issue is way too large to deal with in a soundbite. From memory the answers given were along the lines of "these protocols will need to be developed...".

Well, if multi-vendor OSS protocols for routers and switches still haven't matured after 20-odd years, I guess we shouldn't hold our breath.

A couple of comments on the messages:

- I'm sure the Timetra system was slick and impressive. But it's proprietary. The real point of the carriers' questions on Monday was to allow end to end service provisioning, into multiple vendors' Ethernet switches, over a legacy SONET core, and with the capacity to migrate there procedures to an Ethernet core in the future.

- I also know that router operations folks love CLI. But CLI is a man-machine interface, not a machine-machine interface. One aspect that carriers are eager to get away from is the need to strap highly qualified personnel to every router in order to keep it running smoothly. Part of that problem is the lack of good OSS support on routers and Ethernet switches to make the provisioning process scale.

No kidding folks, this was an excellent, fundamental question that I think needs serious consideration.

Cheers,
Geoff
rjmcmahon 12/4/2012 | 11:56:38 PM
re: Carriers Face Ethernet 'Black Hole' One aspect that carriers are eager to get away from is the need to [have] highly qualified personnel.

Excuse me for taking this out of context of the router (which is arguably high skilled) and into the larger issue, but it's really a very important issue. In our world of six billion, where capital flows across borders at the click of a button, the only way to create high paying jobs and sustain a high standard of living is to grow highly qualified personnel. Any company thinking they can compete by reducing these expectations on staff will fail. Quality of staff is extremely, if not the most, important thing an organization must achieve.
diag_eng 12/4/2012 | 11:56:35 PM
re: Carriers Face Ethernet 'Black Hole' Someday when we're old and gray we'll be sitting on our front porches with old telcom friends and marvel how everything started as Ethernet and ended as Ethernet.
mdwdm 12/4/2012 | 11:56:34 PM
re: Carriers Face Ethernet 'Black Hole' 100,000 plus folks in SV and NJ are doing just that right now.

And this is why it was called "Ethernet".

---------------
Someday when we're old and gray we'll be sitting on our front porches with old telcom friends and marvel how everything started as Ethernet and ended as Ethernet
-------------------
excitedPhoton 12/4/2012 | 11:56:33 PM
re: Carriers Face Ethernet 'Black Hole' Geoff says:
"I'm sure the Timetra system was slick and impressive. But it's proprietary. The real point of the carriers' questions on Monday was to allow end to end service provisioning, into multiple vendors' Ethernet switches, ..."

Granted. However, we are not going to get away from "proprietary" NMS's. To have product differentiation, i.e., to address the weaknesses of existing systems, you always end up doing something proprietary.

Northbound interface standardization seems to be the best approach to this integration.

Geoff:
"I also know that router operations folks love CLI."

Router vendors are not keen on SNMP. They scorn TL/1. At best, these are useful for gathering stats. I suppose the fact that the only providers left standing are ILECs and IXCs is going to make vendors pay more attention to provisioning systems, and the industry pay more attention to interface standardization.

Too bad SNMP doesn't quite cut it for the southbound interface. It's the best we've got, so it would be a step forward to actually use it and shake its traces a bit.

As for the northbound interface, everytime we find one (CORBA, Java interfaces, XML), the target moves. Too bad we don't have a good standards process for this.

Hence the proprietary NMS's, and hence the need for a glue system.

-ep
FXavier 12/4/2012 | 11:56:33 PM
re: Carriers Face Ethernet 'Black Hole' As much as I like the capabilities of the TiMetra box with its proprietary NMS capabilities. It is a box with some proprietary wiggles. Given that we are moving to a world of commodity pricing on routers, a more desirable solution would be a provisioning software package that does what TiMetra does; is not tied to any particular box; and addresses all the standards which have gradually been ground out by the Ethernet standards bodies. Such a package should include real time drag and drop service creation, traffic monitoring and shaping in compliance with multiple QoS choices including full rating/billing addressability for all services created and delivered.

Does anyone know of such an OSS package ?
excitedPhoton 12/4/2012 | 11:56:32 PM
re: Carriers Face Ethernet 'Black Hole' FXavier,
"... a more desirable solution would be a provisioning software package that does what TiMetra does ..."

Do you like the Timetra NMS enough that you might suggest it is a draft for a standard?

You also say:
"Such a package should include real time drag and drop service creation, traffic monitoring and shaping in compliance with multiple QoS choices including full rating/billing addressability for all services created and delivered."

I'm not concerned about the "real-time drag and drop." That's an implementation issue. I'm more concerned about the back-end of the "real-time drag and drop." How does Timetra handle that? Through standard interfaces (e.g., SNMP MIBs) or proprietary ones (aka hacks)?

If MIBs, then are the existing standard MIBs good enough?

Finally:
"Does anyone know of such an OSS package ?"

Since you like the Timetra NMS, does anyone know of an OSS package that can do what Timetra can do? Perhaps not in the ethernet world, but in the SONET world. Which one would you consider a draft model?
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