MEF Makes Strides With Ethernet Interconnection

While Carrier Ethernet's reach has become increasingly comprehensive and global, expanding far beyond enclosed single-carrier service "islands" in which it first developed, interoperability has long been a key obstacle to its expansion. Interconnect agreements between providers, typically using proprietary service variants and different Class of Service (CoS) structures, have been complex, costly and time-consuming, taking months of time and significant resources to implement.

The long-term goal is a situation where Ethernet services can be ordered between service providers as easily as T1s. But while standardization is clearly the answer and widely supported, the fact that most equipment vendors and carriers are also on a permanent quest for uniqueness means standardization embodies a chronic tension, making it inherently troublesome.

The Ethernet trade group MEF , thus, has recently made standardizing interconnection a central focus. While its 2010 adoption of a Phase One External Network to Network Interface (ENNI) standard was designed to promote smoother interoperability, it left major ambiguities. The pending E-Access standard, slated for early 2012 adoption – the first new MEF-defined Ethernet service in many years and its first wholesale service standard ever – addresses Ethernet interoperability more comprehensively as an implementation guide. E-Access takes another major step toward standardizing Ethernet interconnection while enhancing service availability, competition, variety and quality worldwide. The two standards are profoundly symbiotic: While E-Access offers implementation direction ENNI lacks, E-Access carrier certification is likely to require standardized carrier ENNI interconnects.

The latest Heavy Reading Insider , "Ethernet Interoperability Center Stage 2012: MEF Builds on ENNI With E-Access," analyzes the progress toward developing standardized Carrier Ethernet interconnection, focusing on the MEF, and assessing the role the new E-Access standard will play in facilitating Carrier Ethernet interconnection while also updating the status of related Carrier Ethernet exchanges (CEEs).

Interconnection is an increasingly important Ethernet growth source, especially as wholesale growth has come to significantly exceed retail's growth. By facilitating interconnection and lowering transaction costs, the emerging E-Access standard should serve as an additional market accelerator for Ethernet services worldwide. The less costly, more efficient Ethernet Virtual Private Line (EVPL) topology, meanwhile, is likely to benefit and grow from these new wholesale standards, meaning lower costs and greater flexibility for the global Ethernet market. Smaller and less known providers are likely to benefit disproportionately from the strengthening perception of seamless Ethernet interoperability. Wireless backhaul and emerging cloud services are two of the most powerful application drivers for the development of Ethernet wholesale standards and services growth.

— Steve Koppman, Analyst at Large, Heavy Reading Insider

Ethernet Interoperability Center Stage 2012: MEF Builds on ENNI With E-Access, a 13-page report, is available as part of an annual subscription (12 monthly issues) to Heavy Reading Insider, priced at $1,595. This report is available for $900. To subscribe, please visit: www.heavyreading.com/insider.

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