CHICAGO -- Supercomm 2009 -- The Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) 's efforts on Ethernet peering is making progress, with key network-to-network interface (NNI) specifications possibly coming out in just a few months.
"We'll know more at the end of next week, but it could be February," says Kevin Vachon, the MEF's chief operating officer. ("Next week" refers to a scheduled MEF meeting the week of Oct. 26.)
The NNI is an important element in what the MEF is calling its Global Interconnect initiative. The idea is to provide a common framework for operators to put Ethernet services onto one another's networks, which helps improve the reach of those services.
That could lead to the creation of Ethernet peering points, exchanges similar to those that exist for Internet services. Equinix announced the first such Ethernet exchange earlier this month. (See Equinix Offers Global Ethernet Peering .)
Last October, MEF president Nan Chen started talking about Global Interconnect as the next phase in Carrier Ethernet development. Whether Chen himself is working on the concept with his CENX startup is still unknown (and come to think of it, he owes us a call back!). (See MEF Touts Phase 3, MEF Peers Consider Ethernet Exchange, and Nan Chen Takes CENX Route.)
The MEF wants to work quickly here, because carriers are working up their own network-interface agreements every time they want their traffic to ride on another provider's network. The MEF doesn't want too many of these proprietary deals to stack up before it comes out with a standard NNI, Vachon says.
On the other hand, Global Interconnect requires more than just a quick-sketch standard.
"What we didn't want to do is just throw more specifications at the industry," Vachon says. "We want to go to the industry with a plan: Here are our recommendations for interconnect; here are the pieces you need to take under consideration."
Another facet of the MEF's Global Interconnect initiative is the defining of Ethernet classes of service. That was accomplished on a basic level with the recently created MEF 23 standard for three classes of service; the next step will be to assign values to various classes, making it easier to apply them to wholesaling deals.
A third element to Global Interconnect would be carrier-grade operations, administration, and management (OAM), which the MEF has also worked on.