Saturday, November 21, 2009

EENY: Operators Talk 100-GigE Services

NEW YORK -- Ethernet Expo Americas 2009 -- The prospect of selling a 100-Gbit/s Ethernet service isn't as ridiculous as you might think, according to panelists here.

Mind you, we're talking about a service, a 100-Gbit/s pipe going to one customer. Carriers have said for some time that 100-Gbit/s Ethernet equipment would come in handy if it were available today. (See Facebook: Yes, We Need 100-GigE.) Now, some high-end Ethernet providers see the same potential for services.

"I think the early movers in the enterprise space that would use 100 Gbit/s were existing six months ago," said Rajiv Datta, chief technology officer of AboveNet Inc. (NYSE: ABVT).

Michael Rouleau, senior vice president of business development at tw telecom inc. (Nasdaq: TWTC), said his company is working with customers and equipment vendors now, in preparation for 100-Gbit/s services: "They're not just looking at inverse multiplexing. They're looking at 100 Gbit/s."

Optimum Lightpath likewise sees a need -- not surprising, considering its territory includes New York's clutch of Type A financial firms. "The question is: When does the service become viable from an economic standpoint?" said Christopher Rabii, senior vice president of technical operations for Optimum Lightpath. "Right now, it's obviously too soon. But if you're going to say, 'Is it five years away?' No way. It's much sooner than that."

Panelists stressed, though, that putting up a 100-Gbit/s service won't be all that easy. At least if you try to do it right away.

"The challenge is that it's an ecosystem," Datta said. "You have to take that 100 Gbit/s and connect it to something."

Oh yeah, that problem. Ethernet gear is only beginning to sprout 100-Gbit/s interfaces. Commercial availability probably won't start in earnest until mid-2010, and the interfaces will be expensive at first. (See Hitachi Preps P-OTS Box, Huawei's Doing 100-Gig, Too, AlcaLu Readies 100GigE Cards , and Juniper Claims 100-Gig First.)

"As soon as that picture comes together, I think there'll be early movers that'll use it," Datta said.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Has the time come for Ethernet as a WAN service?

For its entire existence as an entity, data networking has been a conglomeration of special interface and protocols. In stark contrast to the "plug and play" simplicity of analog telephony – where you simply attach the cord to an RJ-11 jack on the wall and everything "works," the intrinsic complexity of networking has forever called for specialists. Additionally....
Click To Read More

Rethinking YouTube's Bandwidth Bill

Less than six months after suggesting that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) could lose upward of half a billion dollars operating YouTube Inc. this year, Credit Suisse has revised estimates for how much the company pays for bandwidth.....
Click To Read More

Sunday, November 15, 2009

How Nortel Optical Networking Sale Will Change The Industry

Nortel may be bankrupt but that doesn't mean it has no value.

The rise and fall of Nortel,

Take, for instance, the company's Metro Ethernet Networks unit that Ciena is looking to buy for more than $500 million. Metro Ethernet Networks, which generated $1.36 billion in revenue for Nortel in 2008, has deployed an estimated 430,000 optical nodes to customers in 65 countries. Additionally, the Dell'Oro Group research firm found that Nortel topped its competitors in shipments of 40Gbps equipment and that it had an estimated 32% market share of 40Gbps equipment at the end of 2008. On top of all this, Nortel has a strategic partnership with AT&T, meaning that anyone who purchases the Metro Ethernet Networks will have access to the second-largest carrier in the United States.

"Nortel is very strong in terms of Layer-1 transport technology for 40G and 100G networking," says Andrew Schmitt, an analyst at Infonetics Research. "I've surveyed carriers and Nortel comes out as the leader in both 40G and 100G technology by a wide margin."

Read on,

EENY: Exchange Heat

NEW YORK -- Ethernet Expo Americas 2009 -- Ethernet services providers have been calling for it for years, and now the wait is over -- managed multi-carrier interconnection at common exchange points is now possible, with network-to-network interconnect specifications set to become available within the next few months.

Quick recap: Up to now, Ethernet service providers looking to go "off net" by connecting to partner network operators have had to arrange and set up interconnect agreements on a one-to-one basis, which takes a long time, costs a lot of money, and leads to multiple agreements that vary wildly.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), for example, has 125 partners for Ethernet service interconnect that, between them, have spawned about 200 separate certified service arrangements, Michael Volgende, the operator's director of Ethernet services, told the audience here during his keynote address Tuesday afternoon. To deal with all those arrangements, Verizon has created its own certification process.

Now, though, service providers can hook up to Ethernet exchanges that are similar to Internet peering points. The idea is that they connect once and become hooked up to multiple partners without having to organize individual interconnect deals -- one to many, rather than multiple one-to-one connections.

Equinix Inc. (Nasdaq: EQIX) unveiled its Ethernet exchange plans in October and this week revealed its first seven carrier partners, including AboveNet Inc. (NYSE: ABVT), Level 3 Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: LVLT), and Reliance Globalcom . (See Carriers Join Equinix's Exchange and Equinix Offers Global Ethernet Peering .)

The prospect for Equinix to connect multiple operators to its exchange is clear, as the data center specialist already provides the physical location for 90 Ethernet service providers to make their existing one-to-one interconnections.

Equinix isn't the only player on the scene, though, as CENX Inc. emerged this week with its first U.S. exchange points. (See Ethernet Gets a CENX View.)

The fact that Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) president Nan Chen heads up CENX has caused something of a stir, as it's the MEF that's close to publishing the Ethernet network-to-network interface (NNI) standard specifications, which are now on course to be published in January. In addition, Chen also took the opportunity to introduce CENX to the Ethernet community as part of his MEF update presentation here at Ethernet Expo, a move that raised a few eyebrows amongst attendees. (See Supercomm: Ethernet Peering Gets Closer and Ethernet Exchange of Blows.)

What's clear, though, is that the capabilities being offered by CENX and Equinix is set to change the Ethernet services landscape, and further enhance the potential uptake for international, multi-site Ethernet connectivity.

Friday, November 13, 2009

AT&T: Ethernet Is It

NEW YORK -- Ethernet Expo Americas 2009 -- AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is moving as quickly as it can to push Ethernet into every part of its network, including the wireless portion that is currently struggling to keep up with the bandwidth demands of smartphones, Margaret Chiosi, executive director of Optics & Ethernet Service Development for AT&T Research Labs , said here today.

"Ethernet is it; it has won Layer 2," Chiosi said, after reciting a list of networking types that once vied for that position. "We are trying to get it out the door as soon as possible. Our DSLAMs are going Ethernet; the U-verse backbone is IP over Ethernet. On the wireless side, we are having capacity problems, but besides migrating to LTE, Ethernet access for backhaul is it. The challenge is how to get it out quickly."

All of that is in addition to the Ethernet wide area network and metro area network services that AT&T uses and sells, Chiosi said. "Our routers have Ethernet, and Ethernet is the interface to the hosting centers as we get into cloud computing."

The challenge now is to make Ethernet services "available at more locations with more customer choices," Chiosi said. "Ethernet is recession-proof."

While AT&T's vendors might have been concerned that an economic downturn would slow Ethernet sales, AT&T customers were actually asking for more of the technology, Chiosi said.

"Their view was that they had to get Ethernet out even faster, because this is the technology to contain your costs and ride that bandwidth wave -- getting more bandwidth for less" with application flexibility, scalability, and Service Level Agreements, she said. "Our goal as we try to meet all these demands is to expand the choices we offer our customers."

Chiosi also called on vendors to help AT&T address the challenge of exponential growth in bandwidth demands, while remembering that cost cannot also be exponential. "We are putting in an infrastructure that is going to be 100 Gigabit-capable, and to do that, we are squeezing as much as we can out of fiber that is in place," she said. B)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Qwest moving to 100 GbE by 2010

It looks like 100 GbE (Gigabit Ethernet) is coming to market fast (pun intended).

Qwest (NYSE:Q) announced this week that they are now beginning a build-out of 100 GbE that will continue through 2010. From a networking gear perspective, Qwest is using the Alcatel-Lucent's recently announced 100 GbE services card, that will plug into the ALU 7750 Service Router and 7450 Ethernet Service Switch.

Financial terms of the deal have not been publicly disclosed.

100 GbE is 10 times faster than the current top-end of Ethernet at 10 GbE, which is common in many carrier networks. Less common is OC-768 which delivers 40 Gbps and according to most of the carriers I talk too, is more expensive than aggregating 4 x 10 GbE links.

That's one of the promises of 100 GbE that I've heard from multiple vendors including Alcatel-Lucent, namely that 100 GbE will be more cost effective than OC-768.

With the current state of the economy, costs are obviously a concern, but carriers still need to grow their networks just to keep up with demand.

"Internet traffic keeps growing, however service providers need to make money," Michael Howard, principal analyst, carrier and data center networks, Infonetics Research said in a statement. "For this, they not only need higher speeds and capacities, they need service flexibility at the same time. We're encouraged to see Qwest integrate Alcatel-Lucent's 100 Gigabit Ethernet with services enablement for the edge and the metro, which also serves as high-speed transport in the core."

Qwest won't be the only carrier with 100 GbE links in 2010. Comcast has announced trials in which I've seen Nortel, Cisco and Juniper participate.

Other big networks are also moving to 100 GbE. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is working with Cienna on 100 GbE. The U.S Department of Energy recently announced it was getting $62 million in stimulus funding to roll out 100 GbE.

2010 sure is looking like a big year for 100 GbE.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Will 400G Be The Next Ethernet?

Recently, the industry has been pondering whether the next big leap for Ethernet should be 400Gbps or 1Tbps.

The conversation probably feels a little familiar. In the last go-round, the industry split between advocates for 40Gbps and those for 100Gbps. In the end, the IEEE worked on standards for both speeds of Ethernet in parallel, at the same time. Those standards are expected to ratify next year.

At the Ethernet Alliance’s recent pow-wow on the next steps for Ethernet technology, Chris Cole of Finisar advocated using 16 links running at 25Gbps each to get to 400Gbps. Some others have indicated that 20Gbps links would be the way to go.

At the same event, Facebook stood up and said they’d like to see an effort get under way toward terabit-speed Ethernet, because the company is seeing some pressure in certain parts of its data centers, where the links are too constricting. Plus, the company is seeing such phenomenal growth in its traffic that if it extrapolates, it can see terabit Ethernet becoming a necessity.

I touched on terabit Ethernet a year and a half ago, when people were talking it up. At the time, the year 2015 was being thrown around as a possible timeframe for standardizing on the high-speed networking technology. But getting to a terabit per second may prove to be more difficult than getting to 400Gbps, and so we may see two separate efforts this time around, instead of the parallel work we saw in 40Gbps and 100Gbps.