Fuelling The Enterprise: The Future Of Carrier Ethernet

Carrier Ethernet

Today’s Internet-centric society continues to act as the catalyst for the world’s surging appetite for anywhere, anytime connectivity. Nowhere is this hunger more prevalent than in the workplace, so much so that fast, efficient and secure transfer of data is increasingly key to business success.

To ensure all business processes within an enterprise, from e-mail to high level data transfers such as algorithmic trading operate efficiently, a robust network infrastructure must be in place. Furthermore it should serve as a component to ensure this process can drive revenue growth in line with future demand and technology adoption.

Carrier Ethernet has quickly become the go to network solution for enterprises because of its ability to provide reliable, scalable and flexible service-level agreements. So burgeoning is its popularity that Infonetics Research predicts the Carrier Ethernet market will top £24 billion globally by 2017, with the greatest demand originating from Asia Pacific followed by Europe, The Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Such demand solidifies Carrier Ethernet as a permanent, inseparable part of the network ecosystem.

With this growth in mind, I’d like to look at the top five industry drivers that will transform Carrier Ethernet from ‘network newcomer’ to network necessity in the next three years.

1. Evolution From Time-Division Multiplexing

First developed in the late 1800s, TDM-based services were, for generations, the standard technology used to drive business network services. The advent of Carrier Ethernet saw both technologies run in tandem for a time, but increasingly the latter is becoming the ‘go to choice’ worldwide.

Statistics from Vertical Systems now show Ethernet bandwidth exceeds total TDM-based services in enterprises worldwide. Carrier Ethernet’s popularity will only increase as enterprises continue to move towards a network-as-a-service model and the adoption of network solutions with flexible, scalable and high powered bandwidth in line with their business needs.

The increasing popularity of Carrier Ethernet will not only benefit multiple verticals, in birthing and enhancing new technologies, but also demonstrates the trust senior IT executives now have in the solution.

2. Packet Networks For Timing Distribution

Traditionally, operators have relied on networks to synchronise critical applications that depend on accurate time and frequency information. Traditional TDM based networks provided the distinct advantage that all connection and redistribution points, as well as communication endpoints, could rely on the network’s common awareness of time and frequency (the “T” in “TDM”).

As the journey toward Carrier Ethernet networks gathered pace, major questions arose as to how this process would be replicated on Carrier Ethernet. While some traditional GPS and overlay TDM (such as SONET and SDH) alternatives can be used to carry out the same role as traditional network nodes, they can often be expensive or risky and unreliable.

Packet networking technologies, particularly SyncE and 1588v2, hold the answer. This technology is able to sit on the network, replicating the appropriate timestamps needed by mobile and smart power applications going forward. Not only do such solutions allow critical data to be kept secure, but the ability to have complete control over them results in lower costs.

3. The Critical Role Of The Network

For many years, a robust, reliant network was considered a luxury by many organisations. The move to an increasingly cloud-dependent society has transformed the network from ‘luxury to necessity’ and it is now the foundation of any critical business application.

As this reliance increases, network infrastructure will continue to grow and increasingly become not only the cornerstone of business stability but also a key driver in profit growth. As with any critical business tool, senior decision makers are looking for the best solution, at the most effective cost for deployment. Carrier Ethernet’s flexibility, scalability and reliance have made it the most ideal enterprise network solution to deal with such needs.

4. Virtualisation Of Resources

Network resources are increasingly becoming software-based. This means they can be hosted on generic servers that are far more effective and cost efficient than the traditional ‘appliance approach’. Carrier Ethernet allows critical parts of the network ecosystem to be divorced from the router platform.

This means that firewalls, load-balancers and routing engines can be more effectively ‘centralised’. The flexibility and choice this provides allows enterprises to make significant cost savings, predominantly by reducing their reliance on one vendor for all aspects of the network environment.

5. Software-Defined Networks

The network is increasingly being defined by the applications it powers. Flexible, on-demand bandwidth (as well as other attributes like latency and protection levels) can be automatically requested by these applications.

Unlike previous years whereby such a request (often sent manually) had to be verified by an IT manager, technology like Software Defined Networking (SDN) allows the network to not only respond accordingly (unaided and in a matter of milliseconds), but also allows it to optimise resources so it is used efficiently.

As this trend increases, operators will increasingly use technology to mine the network for analytical information about usage patterns in order to respond to such demand more effectively in a timely manner.

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John Hawkins

John Hawkins is currently Senior Advisor, Product & Technical Marketing at Ciena with a focus on the company’s Packet Networking portfolio. His previous responsibilities at Ciena included supporting business development for Ciena Government Solutions, a subsidiary dedicated to addressing the evolving communications requirements of the government marketplace and research and education institutions. John joined Ciena in 2009 from Nortel Networks where he spent 19 years in various management roles focused on product marketing and design engineering. His began his career at GE as an IC Designer and was later a Product Manager in the company’s aerospace division. John holds a M.B.A. from Duke University, a M.S. in Telecommunications from Southern Methodist University and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina State University.