Keeping Carrier Ethernet SLAs intact: TIA 2011 Preview

Having agreed-upon SLAs ... is the benchmark of SONET and later Frame Relay and ATM services, and the same expectations hold true in emerging IP-based Ethernet services.

Being able to maintain Service Level Agreements (SLA) for business services is a table stakes requirement that every service provider has had to follow.

Having agreed-upon SLAs between service providers that spell out speeds, service requirements, penalties and quality is the benchmark of SONET and later Frame Relay and ATM services, and the same expectations hold true in emerging IP-based Ethernet services.

Despite the promise of greater bandwidth and flexibility, Ethernet initially was greeted as a service by most enterprises with some reluctance because of concerns that it could not meet the same SLA and QoS elements of its predecessor services.

Such a concept of maintaining Ethernet SLAs becomes even more challenging for service providers when a provider has to go out of region. In this case, they have to establish External Network to Network Interconnection (E-NNI) agreements with another carrier or work with a carrier Ethernet exchange. But even off-net situations, the end-customer expects that the service provider they get their service from will ensure the QoS and SLA parameters are met as if the service was traveling over its own network.   

Maintaining Ethernet SLAs is no less important in a wholesale environment. DukeNet Communications, for one, employed Cyan's cloud-based CyPortal to get historic and real-time SLA performance monitoring tools for its operations personnel and its own wireless backhaul customers.

Featuring speakers from Cyan, DukeNet, Juniper (NYSE: JNPR), Overture Networks, Telx, and XO Communications (OTC BB: XOHO), Ethernet SLA concepts will be on display at TIA in three panels in TIA's Converged Carrier Networks: the Technologies track, including "Ethernet with Advanced SLAs: The Emerging Operator Differentiator," the "What must happen for Ethernet to Replace SONET/SDH at the Network Edge?" panel being held on Wednesday, and "Ethernet Exchange: Optimizing Infrastructure to Extend Network Reach" on Thursday.

While service providers have developed their own Ethernet SLA frameworks that leverage Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) QoS standards and service providers building network, there are challenges in maintaining Ethernet SLAs for customers.

Brian Rose, senior manager of product development, Cox Business, told FierceTelecom in a recent interview for our eBook, Ethernet QoS: Trust but Always verify, that while maintaining SONET/TDM is analogous to trains going over a track, Ethernet is like a car going onto an interstate highway.

"With the train track, you never run into traffic, and when you move into a switched environment, be it Ethernet or IP, you hop on the interstate. The good news is that gives me flexibility; the bad news is you introduce the potential of traffic. When talking about QoS and CoS, you start getting into the game of, are you adding more lanes to the highway, or are you trying to manage a limited resource with HOV lanes?"

Keeping Carrier Ethernet SLAs intact: TIA 2011 Preview
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