Ethernet services

Ethernet Europe 2011: Where's the Innovation?

Later in May, Heavy Reading will be publishing a special post-show report that I wrote on Light Reading's annual Ethernet Europe event, held last month in London. The report, "Carrier Ethernet Services & Technology Trends and Issues: Europe," captures the perspectives of 20 service provider speakers who commented on a range of topics, including:

  1. Advanced business connectivity services for enterprise users
  2. Ethernet wholesale service and interconnection trends
  3. Ethernet's role in mobile backhaul network transformation
  4. Technology and service management solutions used to support business, wholesale, mobile backhaul, and residential services and applications

Service provider and Carrier Ethernet exchange players participating in the event included: AboveNet, BT, Cable & Wireless Worldwide, CENX, COLT, Deutsche Telekom ICSS, Equinix, euNetworks, Global Crossing, GTS CE, Interoute, KPN International, Level 3, PacketExchange, TATA, Telx, Tinet, Verizon Business and Virgin Media Business.

An important message from the show is that service-provider experts generally have been disappointed by the lack of technology innovation during the economic recession. While operators are pleased to see 100Gbit/s and 100Gbit/s Ethernet network solutions emerging in the market in a limited way, Interoute CTO Matthew Finnie, GTS CE CTO Jose Ignacio Irurita Martin, Tinet CMO Paulo Gambini, PacketExchange CTO Grant Kirkwood and others said much more work needs to be done to accelerate delivery of commercially available and affordable 100G/100GE products.

Several CTOs and senior technology experts said they were following the development of the MPLS-TP standard with interest, but demand for this transport-friendly solution does not appear to be nearly as pressing as it is for affordable 100G/100GE.

Comments from Finnie, Tata’s John Hoffman, KPN International’s Cees van Duijin, Global Crossing’s Jeff Smith, Level 3’s Rob Houghton and others indicated that most of the innovation that has taken place recently has had more to do with operators updating and strengthening service provider business processes, marketing strategies, and value-add “service wraps.”

On the marketing front, many service providers have stepped up their focus on cloud-based applications in the context of hybrid service offerings that include a mix of dedicated and virtualized solutions. There was much more public discussion this year – including from our keynote guest, Jeff Schwartz of Verizon Business – about the industry shifting in the direction of a utility computing business model, in which everything is a service and customers can dial up business applications and capacity on demand.

As COLT Director for Network Service Design Peter Agnew and GTS CE's Irurita Martin noted, Ethernet networks are ideally suited to rapidly provision cloud services and scale up and down with demands for virtual resources. In addition, unlike Internet-based cloud service providers, network operators are capable of providing cloud services backed up by end-to-end network-based SLAs and performance monitoring.

Comments from numerous network operators indicated that they see service management/OAM solutions as playing a critically important role in enabling them to provide an attractive service wrap around their next-generation portfolios. While a growing number of service providers are taking advantage of ITU-T Y.1731 and IEEE 802.1ag OAM technology to obtain visibility into service performance, remotely monitor faults and underpin SLAs, it is clear that issues related to end-to-end service OAM over multiple carrier networks are not fully resolved. Significant hurdles remain, due largely to interoperability issues associated with different implementations of OAM on different vendor equipment.

More details on these and other topics – such as Ethernet service exchanges, wholesale services, interconnection and Ethernet for mobile backhaul – are available in the report. And, of course, we will be covering major Carrier Ethernet service and technology developments in columns, reports and events in coming months, including at Light Reading’s flagship Ethernet Expo Americas 2011, which will be held in New York on November 8 and 9. Click here to register.

— Stan Hubbard, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading

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