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Test & Measurement

Ethernet Europe: Bigger, Bolder Service Required

LONDON -- Carrier Ethernet has to move beyond the fat, cheap pipes of its early days by adding applications awareness, a broader footprint to reach more customers, and proven user experience, a panel of experts at Ethernet Europe agreed today.

"We need to talk about quality of experience, which is different from quality of service," said Kamran Sistanizadeh, CTO of Global Cloud Xchange . "It is very much related to the underlying applications and being able to show how they are performing."

Combining the value of end-to-end services with proven visibility will enable service providers to avoid seeing their Ethernet services commoditized, the panelists agreed.

That means being able to deliver Ethernet services with ultra-low latency and having end-to-end service level agreements that work across the networks of different operators, Sistanizadeh said, since no one operator has network facilities that cover the global market. Reliance Globalcom has built ultra-low latency for key clients in the financial services industry, but that capability needs to become the norm, he said.

"How do we commoditize this, to bring these capabilities to all our customers, and deliver the service in a seamless manner through multiple clouds of interconnected networks?" Sistanizadeh asked.

Peter Green, product manager for Carrier Ethernet at packet optical gearmaker BTI Systems Inc. , agreed, saying Ethernet service providers must be able to move down market and take their services to the small to mid-sized businesses, many of whom have the same need for global services to reach their suppliers and customers.

Having a broad footprint with a fully featured service is one of the keys to succeeding in a competitive Ethernet market, said Kevin Sheehan, CEO of Ethernet access gear-maker Hatteras Networks Inc. , but service providers must also be able to segment those networks for the purpose of identifying problems, especially where multiple carrier networks are involved.

"When that customer calls you up and says, 'I'm buying a 50-Mbit/s symmetrical service, but I'm not getting that,' you have to be able to go out and monitor that network and know what is going on," Sheehan said. "One of the new things we have added is embedded testing, so you can launch a test and be able to determine latency, packet loss, jitter, etc. without involving the customer."

Being able to measure and prove performance on a per-flow basis will be essential, because enterprise customers look for value, not just lower cost, and they expect Ethernet service providers to help them reduce operating expenses, said Charles Kenmore, president and CEO of Ethernet equipment maker ANDA Networks Inc.

But the industry is still challenged to deliver that kind of visibility, especially when services traverse multiple networks, said James Heney, director of marketing for Canoga Perkins , which makes optical transport products.

"One of our missions in life is to define what services we are providing and then prove we are providing those services," Heney said. "The challenge is that we do not as an industry have a standard for doing that."

The problem will get more complex as enterprises extend their applications to smartphones on mobile networks, BTI's Green predicted.

"That will require wider distribution of applications in the network," he said. "The landline experience is expected everywhere."

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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