MEF Adds Carrier Certification
No need to cue the evil laughter -- this isn't a plot to take over the world (... yet). The organization today launched the next step in its Ethernet certification program, this time testing and certifying Ethernet services, not just the gear that runs them.
In September, the MEF announced its Ethernet certification program, through which it will evaluate Ethernet equipment from the leading vendors and give it a seal of approval if it passes certain tests. The program launch came with the certification of 39 products from 16 vendors. (See MEF Rubber Stamps Ethernet Gear.)
Now comes the Carrier Ethernet Certification Program, which will look at the services themselves. Three categories are lined up for the initial launch: EPL (Ethernet Private Line), EVPL (Ethernet Virtual Private Line), and Ethernet LAN services (multipoint Ethernet).
Bob Metcalfe, inventor of Ethernet and advisory director to the MEF, announced the move during his keynote here today. Metcalfe says it’s only natural that the MEF certify services to complement its program for equipment vendor certification. He expects the program to move the Ethernet services market to rapid adoption.
"Certification can be an accelerant, but it does not yield interoperability itself," said Metcalfe in an interview with Light Reading.
The MEF has signed up some big guns in the service provider market to support Ethernet services certification, including , , T-Systems Inc., , and
Eric Puetz, Executive Director for Broadband Switching at SBC Laboratories, says the carrier hopes to be "proactive" in joining the MEF’s carrier certification by anticipating customer requirements for standardized Ethernet services and equipment.
”Everybody thinks with Ethernet, you just plug it in and it works, but it doesn’t work that way,” Puetz said. “As we know with all standards that are out there, things are implemented differently by equipment providers, and service providers also interpret these things differently.”
The brass ring for all this is interoperability among vendors. “It’s really a first step,” Puetz says. “We’re all offering Ethernet services which are all different flavors. But if we are consistent with the MEF standards, the chances of our customer setting up a service with three different services, that gives them the first level of interoperability.”
Heavy Reading senior analyst Stan Hubbard says the program is a good idea. “As the carrier Ethernet services market rapidly heats up, operators will be looking for more options to differentiate versus the competition. One additional way that they can set themselves apart is with an MEF blessing for Ethernet services. This certification is likely to be important not only for selling into key enterprise verticals, but also to carrier wholesale customers.”
The MEF's equipment program involves an extensive test process that determines whether vendors' equipment can deliver Ethernet services to the specifications set out in the industry body's MEF 9 standard. This standard focuses on Ethernet services at the user network interface (UNI), the point at which the user's network meets the service provider's network.
For the carrier services launch, the MEF doesn't have 39 certifications in the bag, as it did with the equipment certification announcement in September. The first carrier-service certifications are expected to be announced in the first quarter of 2006.
— R. Scott Raynovich, US Editor, Light Reading