Virtual Network Interface Device - Top wireline technologies in 2013


What is it? The Virtual Network Interface Device (vNID) may still be a relatively new concept, but it is emerging as a tool that service providers can use to effectively control QoS (Quality of Service) and OAMP (operations, administration, maintenance and provisioning) when service providers have to deliver Ethernet services leveraging a service provider partner's last mile network.

Driven by businesses that want one service provider to deliver their services regardless of locations, service providers have had to establish pre-standard External-Network to Network Interconnection (E-NNI) agreement with other service providers to deliver off-net Ethernet services. In such a scenario, a service provider that provides the last-mile link to the business will purchase access connectivity into a building from another service provider and owns the customer relationship.

The vNID concept, as proposed by the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF), provides a single network platform placed at a customer site that delivers the Ethernet service via one User Network Interface and enables both the service provider and the wholesale operator to manage and monitor the Ethernet service.

While implementations of the vNID will vary, the basic idea is that the service provider that provides the last-mile connectivity would oversee the NID. This means that when another service provider needs to purchase an access link from that provider, the wholesaler buyer would not be required to install its own NID, but rather just ride on the vNID already in place.

From there, the service provider that provides the end service would confirm their wholesale partner is meeting its agreed upon SLAs and that the end-to-end SLA is delivered to the end-customer.

Why is it important? As more service providers look to expand their off-net Ethernet footprint reach, the vNID will provide, potentially, two benefits to sellers and buyers of access. For the service provider that has to buy access services, money is saved by not having to deploy their own NID and the provider can get the information it needs about the circuit. For the wholesale provider, vNID can guarantee its CoS agreement by being able to troubleshoot issues.

As defined by the MEF, the proposed vNID specification is being developed to create a NID that could be shared by a number of service providers. Right now, there are some pre-standard versions of the vNID concept being offered by vendors such as Omnitron and Accedian.

Last May, the MEF conducted a straw ballot, which indicates progress toward an official MEF document. Prayson Pate, CTO of Overture Networks, told FierceTelecom in an e-mail that the "vNID project is getting a lot of interest from some major service providers and equipment suppliers, and this is reflected in the participation in the straw ballots."

At the MEF, the vNID effort is actually being led by Henry Fowler, the lead member of technical staff at AT&T (NYSE: T). Fowler is the editor of the MEF's draft vNID document.