Ethernet services

Carrier Ethernet Heads to the Next Level

NEW YORK -- Ethernet Expo 2012 -- The demands placed on Carrier Ethernet service providers are changing rapidly, and tw telecom inc. (Nasdaq: TWTC) is addressing some of them by allowing customers to scale bandwidth on demand and to manage the performance of their applications.

"We're moving from delivering circuits to customers to delivering services," said Michael Rouleau, tw telecom senior vice president of business development and strategy, in his keynote here Tuesday morning.

"Our industry and customers are going through some profound change," he said, noting that customers are migrating to the cloud but that this move is challenging their old-school IT and applications architectures. The challenge is to help them bridge that gap using a secure, scalable and predictable network.

During his keynote here last year, Rouleau urged the industry to add more smarts to their networks, and it appears that his company is already backing up some of that talk. (See tw telecom: It's Time to Raise Ethernet's IQ.)

tw telecom is tackling that with an internal initiative that it calls Telco 2.0. It includes a move away from the "big dumb pipe" model to more intelligent networks, and from parallel networks for video, voice and data, to a converged platform for all services. Under this new model, those are all "just applications on the data network."

Two capabilities to emerge from Telco 2.0 are enhanced management and an on-demand, dynamic bandwidth system. The latter, which Rouleau called a long-time "holy grail" for the Carrier Ethernet industry, involves a portal that lets customers double or triple their capacity in real time, without having to provision for that bandwidth ahead of time. He said this on-demand capability could come in particularly handy with telepresence apps.

One of the enhanced management pieces allows customers to schedule a high-bandwidth event (such as a system backup on a Saturday night) ahead of time -- something that can help customers better manage their bandwidth needs. That same management plane gives customers new visibility into jitter, packet loss and other granular components, helping them get a better handle on how the network is performing at the metro or long-haul level and where fixes can be made to boost that performance.

Down the road, Rouleau envisions a more application-aware infrastructure that would enable companies such as tw telecom to serve as a kind of "cloud broker." Under that model, he explained, the system would have enough smarts so the app itself can tell the network that it needs more resources.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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