Ethernet was developed in the early 1970s for interconnecting nearby devices typically within the same building, which led to the term Local Area Network, or LAN, was born.
If something went wrong, you just had to walk around the nearby equipment and look for faults, such as pinched or disconnected Ethernet cables that were easily addressed.
However, as Ethernet found its way into the Wide Area Network, or WAN, things changed drastically.
Ethernet traffic was now being carried over tens to thousands of kilometers and “walking around” to troubleshoot faults took on a whole new meaning, especially when Ethernet services are carried over undersea cable networks sitting on the bottoms of oceans – something had to change.
Ethernet services had to evolve into something that took into account the unique intricacies of the WAN, such as longer distances, remote end-to-end management tools, multi-operator interconnectivity, and the fact that network connectivity has become critical infrastructure for most businesses.
Multi-operator interop becomes important as Ethernet Business Services (EBS) purchased from one network operator traverses one or more other operators’ network. Although this is transparent to the end-user, it’s not to the operators selling the EBS, and thus seamless, standardized handoff between operators must be achieved if EBS of any distance is to become a viable and reliable service offering, which is why MEF E-Access was developed.
Since introduced in 2012, the Metro Ethernet Forum, now referred to as MEF, Carrier Ethernet (CE) 2.0 certification has allowed the telecom industry to offer ubiquitous, standardized, carrier-class Ethernet Business Services to customers that are built upon the following five key attributes.
Eight Standardized Services (E-LINE, E-LAN, E-Tree, and E-Access – Private or Virtual)
Quality of Service (QoS)
It’s these five attributes that define what’s referred to as Carrier Ethernet Services, and is one of the reasons why EBS have become ubiquitous globally over distances spanning tens to thousands of kilometers. MEF has facilitated standardized interfaces and operational procedures for interconnect and access.
This allows for a predefined understanding of EBS performance expectations between buyer and seller leading to faster time to market. It also allows buyers to compare pricing between network operators offering similar services.
By Brian Lavallée, Director of Technology & Solutions Marketing for Ciena’s packet networking solutions.