Ethernet services

Equinix Offers Global Ethernet Peering

It looks as if hosting specialist Equinix Inc. (Nasdaq: EQIX) will be the first company to set up an Ethernet peering exchange.

The company, which already plays host to Internet exchange points between carriers, aims to do the same for Ethernet services by launching the Equinix Carrier Ethernet Exchange platform, being announced today at ITU Telecom World 2009 in Geneva. (See Equinix, AlcaLu Create Ethernet Exchange.)

An Ethernet peering point has been a missing link in the industry's attempts to spread the Ethernet services to the corners of the universe. Such a facility would make it easier for carriers to hand off services to one another -- which, in turn, would let them expand the reach of their Ethernet services. (See MEF Peers Consider Ethernet Exchange.)

To date, carriers have had to hand-craft a network handoff agreement every time they want to connect to another Ethernet service provider. In Equinix's facilities, 80 operators have made these kinds of ad hoc arrangements, says Jarrett Appleby, Equinix's chief marketing officer.

"It's really a long process. It can take you nine or 12 months per carrier," says Appleby. Granted, it's in his best interest to say that, but he's also seen people go through the process; he previously worked at Yipes, the Ethernet services provider that was acquired by Reliance Communications Ltd. (See Reliance Bags Yipes for $300M and Yipes, KPN Study NNI.)

The MEF is finalizing standards for this kind of network-to-network interface (NNI). Even so, a neutral third-party host for Ethernet peering -- the same job that companies such as Equinix and Amsterdam Internet Exchange B.V. (AMS-IX) already do for Internet service providers -- would simpify the process.

Equinix, which has deployed Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU)'s 7750 services router as its peering platform, has engaged with "every major international Ethernet service provider," and is "in trials" with a number of them, says the company's director of innovation, Jonathan Lin.

Heavy Reading senior analyst Stan Hubbard, who tracks the carrier Ethernet services market, says he's "very excited about the Equinix announcement. I think it’s a big step forward for the industry. It promises to help operators accelerate the expansion of their Ethernet services into new markets and new locations by making the network-to-network interconnection process more efficient."

Other companies beyond Equinix are likely to get into the Ethernet peering business -- it's even been theorized that Nan Chen, the MEF's president, is working on such a thing with his latest venture, CENX. (See Nan Chen Takes CENX Route.)

"I thought Nan might do this," Appleby says. "The advantage we have, and the reason we're an early mover on this, is that we already have the locations, and we have the network community. It's not a big cost for us to add the service to our sites."

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to Ethernet Expo 2009, Light Reading’s ninth conference and exposition covering the hot topic of Carrier Ethernet network technologies and services in North America. To be staged in New York, November 3 & 4, admission is free for attendees meeting our prequalification criteria. For more information, or to register, click here.

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