Last year's OIF demo was about Ethernet services, too, but this year the organization plans to outdo itself by introducing new control-plane signaling that will provision Ethernet connections across a Sonet/SDH network.
The 10-week demo will take place in carrier labs worldwide and will get a public viewing in June at Supercomm.
Key to the demo is the fact that the hosts are seven big-name carriers: AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T), China Telecommunications Corp. (NYSE: CHA), Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), France Telecom SA (NYSE: FTE), NTT Laboratories, Telecom Italia SpA (NYSE: TI), and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ).
The roster shows that major providers are interested in offering Ethernet services across legacy Sonet/SDH links. Interoperability testing is a key step because that's how these carriers can convince themselves that the technology is ready to go live, says Hans-Martin Foisel, a Deutsche Telekom representative and chair of the OIF's carrier working group.
The demo, says Foisel, "is a set of functionalities -- data plane and control plane functionalities -- that will be implemented step-by-step by carriers."
Like last year's demo, this year's will test the use of GFP (Generic Framing Procedure), LCAS (Link Capacity Adjustment Scheme), and virtual concatentation to transmit Ethernet across a Sonet/SDH network. Combined, the technologies allow multiple Ethernet feeds to share one Sonet pipe (see Making Sonet Ethernet-Friendly).
But this time, the demo will include signaling that automatically creates the connection between Ethernet endpoints. The idea is to show carriers they can provide Ethernet services without having to uproot the Sonet/SDH infrastructure in place -- and without having to provision anything manually. The latter point is particularly important given carriers' sensitivity to operational costs.
Foisel says DT is quite interested in Ethernet services, and all signs say the other big carriers are, too. The Heavy Reading report, "2004 Survey of Ethernet Service Providers," indicated Ethernet is eclipsing Frame Relay and ATM in carriers' future plans. But Ethernet services have just begun their rollout and represented only 10 percent of revenues among those surveyed (see Counting the Cost of Ethernet Services).
In part, that's just because Ethernet services are new. But Foisel says carriers also want to see some interoperability tests such as this one before they'll be willing to implement new technologies. In particular, he praises the OIF's work on the signaling side: "The OIF is the only forum really pushing this forward."
The "interoperability" part comes in when the demo tries to pass this signaling across multiple vendors' equipment. "This allows Ethernet services to ride on your Sonet/SDH core that can be a multivendor, multidomain core," says Amy Wang, chair of the OIF's networking interoperability group and a representative of systems vendor Avici Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: AVCI; Frankfurt: BVC7).
The demo will use parts of the OIF's User-to-Network Interface (UNI) 2.0, which is partially completed but not yet published, and the signaling portion of the External Network-to-Network Interface (E-NNI), which got ratified in February. An additional E-NNI facet, dealing with routing, hasn't yet been completed.
In separate Supercomm demo news, the International Telecommunication Union, Standardization Sector (ITU-T) says it's gearing up for a 15-vendor demonstration of passive optical networking (PON) technologies, including the broadband and gigabit varieties (BPON, GPON). — Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading
For more on this topic, check out:
- The Heavy Reading reports:
— 2004 Survey of Ethernet Service Providers
— Carrier Ethernet Services: Who's Doing What
— Ethernet Services in China
For further education, visit the archives of related Light Reading Webinars: