Maintaining Ethernet QoS: A challenge and an opportunity

Sean Buckley, FierceTelecomMaintaining Quality of Service (QoS) has always been a challenge and an opportunity for service providers delivering Ethernet services to business customers.

While service providers know that Ethernet services offer greater flexibility in terms of bandwidth allocation, they initially lacked the predictable QoS and Class of Service (CoS) elements inherent traditional SONET and later Frame Relay and later ATM-based services.

FierceTelecom addresses the challenges, opportunities and methods to maintain Ethernet QoS head on in our new eBook Ethernet QoS: Trust but always verify.

Ethernet QoSAs you'll read in the eBook, Ethernet QoS becomes even more complex when service providers have to go off-net to serve a particular customer location and work with a carrier partner. Such a scenario is a growing reality for both incumbent and even growing competitive service providers that are expanding their focus on medium and large businesses that have multiple locations.

One way service providers are engaging with each other in going out of region is by establishing an External-Network to Network Interconnection (E-NNI) arrangement with a carrier partner. In an E-NNI arrangement between two carriers, they will establish various terms (QoS, CoS, and associated network connectivity, etc.), and the carrier delivering the service to the end-customer manages that relationship so the end-customer only has to deal with their main carrier delivering the service to them.

Of course, the NNI process, while necessary, can be time consuming to line up each respective element.

Two of the big breakthroughs to simplify the E-NNI process include the Metro Ethernet Forum's MEF 26 specification and the Ethernet exchange concept.

The Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) early last year ratified its MEF 26 specification, which standardizes the reference point between service providers' MEF-certified Carrier Ethernet networks and services.

Meanwhile, the Ethernet exchange, as pioneered by upstarts including CENX and data center and voice tandem providers Equinix (Nasdaq: EQIX), TELX and Neutral Tandem, is emerging as a neutral point where carriers can either buy or sell Ethernet services to one another or to their enterprise customers.

Despite the challenges that service providers face in maintaining Ethernet QoS inside and outside their respective network territories, the opportunity of establishing a trusted relationship with business customers that want the flexibility of Ethernet is just too good to pass up.  

I encourage you to take a look at our new eBook on Ethernet QoS and let us know what you think.--Sean