Ethernet represents the most important evolutionary step in service provider networking over the next decade. It brings many benefits to all classes of business users.
From its humble beginnings in 1973, with speeds topping out at 3 Mbps, Ethernet has come a long way. Originally intended to create a private network in one location or LAN, Ethernet can now connect multiple locations around the world at speeds up to 10 Gbps, and soon 40 and 100 Gbps. As the use of video and voice applications increases exponentially, the need for more bandwidth is also growing at an insatiable rate.
-- Resource: NTT America, June 2010 The Evolution of Ethernet
The constant need for an increase in bandwidth is the primary reason for the migration to Ethernet from other WAN technologies. This is because Ethernet bandwidth can usually be increased within hours rather than days or weeks like on other mediums.
Why Has Carrier Ethernet Become So Successful, So Quickly?
The ability to continuously adapt has made Ethernet a significant innovation in facilitating unified communications. Since the invention of Ethernet in the 1970s, Ethernet has proven itself to be a technology that can adapt to evolving market needs. Ethernet was initially developed as a LAN standard for connecting at 10 Mbps speeds but has subsequently been upgraded to offer 100 Mbps, 1 Gbps, and now 10 Gbps speeds over both copper and fiber media.
Ethernet is one of the most significant innovations of this generation—and has now evolved from Local Area Networks (LANs) to the Metro Area Network (MAN). The implications of these capabilities are immense.
- Scalability, Ubiquity and Reach
A recent market study found that one of the most compelling reasons for migration to Ethernet was the scalability offered by Ethernet. With many businesses seeing capacity growth rates of 20 to 30 percent per annum, Ethernet scalability is seen as vital to meeting this capacity demand. Ethernet is already available in a wide range of interface speeds from 5 Megabits per second (Mbps) to 10 Gigabits per second (Gbps).
The next dimension to scalability is geographical reach. Carrier Ethernet spans metro, national, and global networks. Work is ongoing at the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) to standardize the interconnection of Ethernet networks operated by different service providers to further increase the reach of such services and offer customers a consistent end-to-end service.
- Performance, QoS and Suitability for Convergence
Inherently, Ethernet networks utilize packet switching technologies (MPLS, IP) that require less processing to operate and manage multiple IP technologies at higher bandwidth(s) than legacy platforms.
Low Latency and Delay variations over fiber medium make Ethernet the best solution for voice, video, and data.
- Cost Savings
The Carrier Ethernet and MPLS technologies used for service delivery reduce cost by eliminating many network add, move, and change procedures by simplifying network operations as compared to legacy Wide Area Network (WAN) support protocols. Reduced network complexity due to fewer network elements and simpler network operations produce savings in network hardware and network consolidation possibilities.
- Control, Simplicity, Familiarity
IT departments manage ethernet connectivity every day and now have more control with simpler network provisioning, configuration management, with lower cost.
- Expediting and Enabling New Applications
Accelerates implementation of data applications for data file transfer, internet access, off-site data storage, access to hosted servers, outsourced mail, file servers, and application servers with reduced resources for overburdened IT departments
Ethernet enables new applications requiring high scalable bandwidth requirements that may have not previously been possible or were cost prohibitive.
- Consistency, Predictability and Risk Reduction
The Class of Service (CoS) mechanisms and Layer 2 control processing methods provide guaranteed performance of such parameters as delay variation, information rates, and information loss recovery mechanisms.
- Reliability and Protection
The Ethernet E-LAN and E-Line Operation, Administration, and Maintenance (OAM) tools on the Ethernet platforms allow for the highest degree of network reliability. Secure, easily managed connectivity with Virtual routing and forwarding (VRF) creates a secure Layer 3 VPN. Unlike ATM and Frame Relay solutions, virtual circuits do not need to be defined for connectivity to each networked location.
- Flexibility, Adaptability
In today's fast changing world where network architectures are continuously evolving and new service delivery models are constantly emerging, customers require unprecedented flexibility in network platforms to adjust to their changing future.