A to Z of Ethernet Services: Which Type of Service Do I Need?

J. Stradling
J. Stradling

Summary Bullets

  • Discuss the list of MEF-defined Ethernet services with your network supplier

The list of MEF-defined Ethernet services is a long one and knowing which type of service is a best fit can be talked through with a handful of service providers to assess who has a clear message and a decent range.

For example standard service types are: E-Line services including Ethernet Private Line (EPL) and Ethernet Virtual Private Line (EVPL), E-LAN (any-to-any) and E-Tree. For a high performance, mission critical circuit – such as those found in financial trading and circuits for business transactions, a premium point-to-point Ethernet-over-SDH service is a sensible choice for giving a fixed path, low latency and deterministic bandwidth, very much like the traditional SDH circuits. However this type of solution will come at a higher price than a service that runs over a shared infrastructure. Enter the EVPL service, which more typically will run Ethernet-over-MPLS. This service would be more cost-effective, particularly for linking up a number of office sites within metro locations to support an Ethernet data WAN. Normal business applications such as CRM and ERP, and some IP communications and collaboration tools would run quite happily over an EVPL, giving an effective solution with a sensible spend. An EVPL (and in fact most other Ethernet services) can be scaled pretty easily adding sites or removing sites, and scaling bandwidth upwards (if available up to maximum port speeds!) or downwards in line with business performance and possible growth. If customers are looking to create an IP broadcast solution, then E-Tree is a good choice with the point-to-multipoint topology economical for example broadcasting a corporate video out to multiple sites. When we get to the high-speed inter-data centre or data-centre to corporate HQ locations Ethernet VPLS becomes an attractive prospect, or E-LAN delivered via Provider Bridge Backbone (PBB).  Ethernet VPLS also usually runs over MPLS, with the any-to-any topology giving full-mesh failover for efficient data traffic between all sites all linked to each other virtually across the MPLS core. Again Ethernet VPLS can be economical but note for a large number (hundreds) of widely geographical sites, it can become a complex solution and IP/MPLS VPN is likely to be more suited to the task. Finally, enterprise customers should certainly be asking their data network suppliers about the range of options listed above and open dialog about what options will give the best costs versus performance scenario with the customers’ needs first and foremost. Your carrier partner should be able to deliver a wide choice of standardized Ethernet products, including hybrid networks leveraging both Ethernet and IP, and with these services backed by value-added customer tools and portals to give a well-rounded offer.

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