What Does Carrier Ethernet 2.0 Mean for the Enterprise?

J. Stradling

J. Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • MEF CE 2.0 service provider certification is not yet available on end-to-end Ethernet services.
  • There are compelling benefits arising from CE 2.0, but it will take time before these reach corporate users.

Carrier Ethernet (CE) 2.0 was unveiled by Bob Metcalfe (the inventor of Ethernet) and the MEF during February of this year, and it is designed to provide industry-wide benefits – to service providers, equipment manufacturers, and end users of Ethernet services, both business and residential.  So, how does CE 2.0 relate to the real-life requirements of corporate data networks?  In other words, if you are an IT manager looking after the enterprise data WAN, should you really care about CE 2.0?

CE 2.0 has been established around three main concepts that have improved over time based on early Ethernet implementations: namely multiple ‘classes of service’ (multi-CoS), ‘interconnect’ and ‘manageability.’  The new CE 2.0 standards framework lays down the rules in the form of MEF service specifications for standardized service implementation of eight services, two each for E-Line, E-LAN, E-Tree, and E-Access.  There are definite positive aspects that will filter down to business users, such as efficient circuit costs thanks to the smart application of CoS to business tools and applications that really matter.  Moreover, the ability to monitor SLA assurance and performance for CE 2.0-adhering Ethernet services should improve considerably compared with earlier-generation Ethernet products.  Finally, for hosted services and the migration of cloud-based and service-oriented tools, CE 2.0 holds promise for a powerful and flexible data WAN platform running end-to-end high-speed Ethernet over fibre (for example)  with end-to-end performance management to the data centres that are hosting the cloud-based applications.

However, this process will take time, and if you search for actual carriers that tout the CE 2.0 label on their products, you will come up blank, which is normal, considering the MEF has stated that CE 2.0 certification is coming soon to MEF members.  Meanwhile, a handful of equipment vendors, such as RAD Data Communications, MRV Communications, and Omnitron Electronics, have been positively sprightly in announcing CE 2.0-compatible products, or products that ‘enable’ CE 2.0.  Thus, the conclusion is that there is no pressing need to push your service provider for CE 2.0-certified offerings, but questions should be asked regarding how multi-CoS will provide cost-savings through efficient bandwidth allocation, as well as about the operator’s vision of how SLA assurance and better end-to-end management over interconnected partner networks will boost performance.  An inhibitor that will delay the proliferation of the ‘interconnect’ part of CE 2.0 is that end-to-end management under the CE 2.0 framework will only be effective providing both parties interconnecting their networks do so based on CE 2.0 specifications.  It is for this reason that we anticipate some early-movers in the service provider community to be among the MEF members making the most of the marketing opportunities in being the first ones to hold CE 2.0 certificates, but it could take well over 18 months for the bulk of carriers to follow suit.

About Joel Stradling
Joel is a Research Director in the Business Network and IT Services team at Current Analysis. Joel and his team cover global and European providers of enterprise voice and data network services, as well as international wholesale carrier-to-carrier services. Additionally, Joel covers managed WAN solutions, including Ethernet and IP VPN, and innovative developments in wholesale carrier services.

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