As Carrier Ethernet continues to ascend into the mainstream, the Metro Ethernet Forum’s (News - Alert) Five Attributes of Carrier Ethernet – standardized services, scalability, reliability, quality of service, and service management – have evolved into more clearly defined standards. The MEF (News - Alert) has laid out a clear path for the telecommunications industry to adopt Carrier Ethernet 2.0 and associated best practices, providing a more structured framework for communications service providers to better deploy services and meet customer expectations. Despite this, confusion exists, specifically when it comes to Carrier Ethernet 2.0 performance management standards.
Take, for example, the MEF's Specification 35, which defines "an Implementation Agreement for MEF Service Operations, Administration and Maintenance Performance Monitoring… The goal of this IA is to define specific performance measurement procedures and specify solutions for collecting the information needed to compute the performance metrics," as laid out in previous specifications. Though MEF 35 focuses on the best practices for Carrier Ethernet 2.0 performance monitoring, the specification itself came after the launch of Carrier Ethernet 2.0. The service-based Carrier Ethernet 2.0 certifications, which CSPs are quickly acquiring for their offerings, ensure that a service is, in fact, compliant, but that doesn’t mean it’s measured and monitored based on the best practices defined in MEF 35.
Further, some network equipment providers have yet to implement MEF 35 or its related specification – MEF 36 – that defines a simple network management protocol management information base for the collection and storage of these performance metrics. Today, many NEPs have developed their own proprietary mechanisms for collecting and storing performance metrics on their devices. For example, a vendor may implement some or all of MEF 35, but do it in its own, separately defined MIB structure or via its element management system, making it difficult to implement standardized best practices efficiently across multiple NEPs. Every vendor's equipment must be integrated differently to accommodate those nuances. Without network equipment that fully supports these standards, CSPs are challenged to completely adhere to the performance management best practices the MEF has outlined – at least right now. The result: Multi-vendor solutions become more challenging to manage, because it means more time and effort is needed to create the necessary Carrier Ethernet reporting structure.
CSPs will be better able to adhere to MEF standards as the market matures and other industry stakeholders, such as NEPs and OSS vendors, implement and align with the MEF specifications. Time and discipline on the part of CSPs will ensure this transition occurs. Once it does, CSPs will be able to address MEF best practices in a standard fashion across multiple vendors and accelerate time-to-market for their Carrier Ethernet offerings.
It's important to remember that there is real value in MEF standards right now, despite the initial confusion. Carrier Ethernet 2.0 has defined new service types, management and deployment techniques, and a framework for delivering business services that have multiple classes of service.
The introduction of Carrier Ethernet 2.0 also means that suppliers of performance management solutions can use the same standards to better address market needs with rapidly deployable solutions, making it far easier to manage multi-vendor networks and eliminate proprietary, vendor-specific nuances that bog down CSPs and significantly slow new implementations. Carrier Ethernet service assurance and network performance management will become vastly more time- and cost-efficient, with both CSPs and their customers reaping the rewards.
The Carrier Ethernet landscape will be further explored this November at the MEF’s Global Ethernet Networking (GEN14) conference, the largest gathering of senior professionals in all industries in the technology ecosystem that have been directly affected by Carrier Ethernet 2.0. Mobile operators, cloud service providers, data center and interconnect providers, and NEPs and solution vendors, will contextualize how Carrier Ethernet 2.0 is affecting many verticals, show the value of Carrier Ethernet 2.0 and MEF standards-based reporting, and explore some of the adoption trends surrounding wholesale and retail enterprise Ethernet services.
Carrier Ethernet 2.0 has the potential to facilitate the delivery of more dynamic, innovative, responsive services to end users, and eventually, unified support for Carrier Ethernet standards and certifications will prove their value. As adoption of Carrier Ethernet 2.0 and its associated standards expand, CSPs, suppliers and vendors within the telecommunications industry will continue to accelerate the implementation of MEF best practices and standards. All Carrier Ethernet 2.0 stakeholders will reap the benefits. CSPs and NEPs will be able to achieve consistency across products and services, lower performance testing costs, and enhance end user confidence, while end users will be able to make more efficient use of these increasingly critical WAN services.
Chris Cullan is product marketing manager for business services solutions at InfoVista (www.infovista.com).
Edited by Stefania Viscusi