CENX: Simplifying the interconnection process - Global Ethernet Report

Whenever you think of Ethernet and Ethernet Network to Network Interconnection, it's hard to not to think of Nan Chen.

But for as much as he is an Ethernet evangelist, Chen admits that the traditional methods for establishing Ethernet-Network to Network Interconnection agreements were simply far too complex. "One of the key things about the interconnect problem is it's a traditional telecom NxN problem," he said. "If you have 60 service providers that wanted to interconnect with one another that would require 7,000 NNIs."  
Known as a pioneer in Ethernet as the founding president of the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) and at the former Atrica, Chen believes the better E-NNI approach is to create a common point get network interconnections or what he calls his new company Carrier Ethernet Network Exchange (CENX).

Similar to how the advent of the data centers enabled ISPs to peer with one another at a neutral point, CENX opened three Carrier Ethernet Exchanges in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

At these network points, CENX will offer three services to Ethernet providers looking to establish E-NNI agreements with other carriers:

  • CENX Market: Serving as a meeting point, CENX Market is a web-based ordering site that lets members either buy or sell Ethernet services. A buyer could, for example, find out where a service is available, bandwidth parameters and Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
  • CENX System: Incorporating distributed hardware and software elements, CENX System serves as a behind the scenes engine to enable buyers and sellers to connect on CENX Market.
  • CENX Services: Under its service moniker, CENX offers four primary services: Resilient Virtual Interconnect; Unique Service Alignment; Flexible Service Inquiry/Ordering; and Real-time Portal/Management.

Instead of a complex process that would require thousands of agreements, a service provider could effectively make one connection into CENX and get connections to any number of member service provider networks. "What CENX does is we open up a strategic location to connect into one pipe and then at the EVC level they can interconnect with any service provider peer they choose to be connected to," Chen said. "Instead of having 7,000 NNIs, you could have one or two."

The value-add is that unlike traditional Ethernet off-net arrangements that are typically relegated to each service provider's respective footprint, Chen believes CENX claims it can cut the time to make E-NNI arrangements from months down to days as service providers can connect at a common peering connection point.

CENX, however, is not the only company chasing the global Ethernet exchange idea as Equinix is also creating its own Carrier Ethernet Exchange platform, which it offers at its International Business Exchange (IBX) data centers.

While Equinix and CENX may be competitors, the notion of a neutral Ethernet exchange common point could change the game on how service providers expand their Ethernet footprint.

CENX: Simplifying the interconnection process - Global Ethernet Report