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Carrier Ethernet Defined

A comparison of the key WAN transport


methods now available for delivering
high-value Ethernet services
Describing each methods capabilities
and how they support the end-user network

This white paper addresses:


Benefits of three primary Carrier Ethernet services
A comparison of Ethernet features important to enterprises
Appropriate applications for each Carrier Ethernet service

Contents
Carrier Ethernet Evolves as a Wide Area Network Service....................3
Ethernet-over-Fiber-MPLS Enhances Carrier Ethernet Services..............6
Ethernet-over-SDH Expands Across Networks .....................................7
Ultra-High Bandwidth of Ethernet-over-WDM
Attracts Data Center Use....................................................................8
Choose Service Based On Application Requirements ...........................8
Carrier Ethernet Service Capabilities Encourage Widespread Use ........9
Glossary ...........................................................................................11

Carrier Ethernet Evolves as a Wide Area Network Service


Initially developed by carriers to deliver Ethernet to enterprise customers
at bandwidth levels previously unavailable (10 Mbps, 100 Mbps and
1Gbps), Carrier Ethernet services are becoming prevalent across leading
European metropolitan centers. Some services are available across
national boundaries. Carrier Ethernet services offer enterprises an
alternative WAN transport service to augment and replace existing leased
line and data services.
Carrier Ethernet has been developed from Ethernet for local area
networks with modifications to enable its use in the wide area. These
modifications include:
Enhanced equipment redundancy in hardware and software to make
them carrier class.
Traffic engineering techniques, such as Multiprotocol Label Switching
(MPLS) to scale network services with consistently high resiliency and
Quality of Service (QoS). MPLS provides a target of 50 ms restoration for
network services.
Implementation of Virtual Private LAN Services (VPLS) to provide
multipoint Ethernet for a single company across geographic locations.
VPLS overcomes the inherent limitations of Ethernet VLANs by adopting
MPLS for multipoint applications, using a defined encapsulation scheme
for Ethernet traffic.
Enhancement of SDH technology, to transport efficiently Ethernet traffic
across optical networks, through the Generic Framing Procedure (GFP)
and Link Capacity Adjustment Scheme (LCAS).
These enhancements give the carrier a data service that enables service
level agreements (SLAs) for business customers. These SLAs establish
metrics for guaranteed data delivery over a specified timeframe, with
defined refunds or credits when these metrics are not met.
The very top level guarantees little or no time lag for data packets, which
is suitable for MPEG 2 video traffic. The lowest level provides only best
efforts delivery of traffic, with no guarantees. Because the highest quality
Carrier Ethernet is now capable of providing compressed MPEG 2 video
quality transport that eliminates freeze frames, several carriers are
deploying Carrier Ethernet for aggregation and backhaul of video, voice
and Internet services over DSL, commonly referred to as the Triple Play.

There are three types of Carrier Ethernet:


Ethernet-over-SDH (EoS)
Ethernet-over-Fiber (EoF)
Ethernet-over-WDM (EoW)
Since each is supported by a separate network infrastructure using
different optical transport technology, they differ in terms of resiliency,
bandwidth-level offered and available footprint.
Incumbent national carriers and leading alternative carriers are the
primary providers of Ethernet Wide Area Network (WAN) transport
services. Ethernet-over-Fiber was the first deployed by alternative carriers
to attract enterprises away from the leased line, Frame Relay and ATM
services of incumbent national carriers. EoF services have continued to
improve through traffic engineering techniques, specifically MPLS. Since
national carriers widely deployed SDH for ultra-reliable E1, E3, STM-1,
STM-4 and STM-16 transport, Ethernet-over-SDH has become one of the
preferred technologies for these carriers. Ethernet-over-WDM has been
proven inside core networks and in ultra-high bandwidth applications
that require n x 100 Mbps, 1 Gbps or 10 Gbps throughput, such as realtime disk mirroring between dispersed data centers. While point-tomultipoint services are becoming available in all these cases, most services
today are still point-to-point.
Enterprises are generally uninterested in underlying network technology.
But they do care about application-sensitive service attributes like
bandwidth, quality of service, restoration and resiliency, latency and
future enhancement of existing network assets to support Carrier
Ethernet. EoS, EoF and EoW differ considerably in these service
attributes, as shown in Table 1 on the next page.

Service
Attribute

EoF

EoS (Leased Line,


Switched)

Bandwidth
Speeds

10 to 100 Mbps and


1 Gbps

2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 50,
100 Mbps and 1 Gbps

Quality of
Service

Equal CIR and PIR


Guaranteed (EoS LL*)
Others: PIR larger than Through CIR and
CIR
PIR for Sw EoS** with
PIR > CIR

Restoration/
Resiliency

Rapid Spanning Tree


Protocol (RSTP) typically
over 100 ms in a
moderate-sized
network.
The actual restoration
time is dependent on
the number of nodes.
EoF-MPLS networks
have a target restoration
time of 50 ms.

10 to 50 ms or less for
Optical protection to
EoS LL
50 ms
For Switched EoS, there
are three options: (1)
SDH protection at 50
ms, (2) Rapid Spanning
Tree Protocol at > 50 ms
and (3) Link Capacity
Adjustment Scheme
(LCAS) at 50 ms

Latency

Medium, rises w/traffic

Low

Low

Connectivity
between
Enterprise to
Carrier POP

Generally a single link,


unless the customer
requests redundant
connections

Redundant connection
through SDH access
ring

Single or redundant link


from the enterprise to
POP

Point-to-Point Yes

Yes

Yes

Multipoint-to- Yes
Multipoint

No (EoS LL)
Yes (Sw EoS)

No

Strengths

Price
Multipoint support

Ring resiliency and


transport for voice
and data across
multiple sites
Low latency

Ultra-high bandwidth
(1 Gbps and greater)
Low-latency

Limits

Non-ring based
Cant transport TDM,
voice and Ethernet
simultaneously
Lack of service >
1 Gbps

Lack of bandwidth
greater than 1 Gbps

Generally for bandwidth


options of 100 Mbps
and greater only

Common Use
Application

Replacement for or to
augment Frame Relay
(FR) or ATM for Internet
access and site-to-site
links

EoS LL replacement
for leased line (LL)
Sw EoS replacement
for or to augment
ATM and FR and some
leased line for Internet
access, site- to-site
and storage transport
Service aggregation
for LL, voice (packet
or TDM), Ethernet in
one interface

Storage transport
between corporate site
to in-house or thirdparty data center

Colt Telecom
France Telecom
Telefonica

Colt Telecom
Deutsche Telekom
France Telecom
Telefonica

Colt Telecom
BT

Carriers

EoW
1 Gbps, 10 Gbps,
200 Mbps ESCON,
1.25 Gbps FICON,
1 and 2 Gbps Fiber
Channel
Guaranteed

** EoS LL = Ethernet-over-SDH Leased Line


** SwEoS = Switched Ethernet-over-SDH
Table 1. Comparison of Carrier Ethernet Services

Ethernet-over-Fiber-MPLS
Enhances Carrier Ethernet Services
Carriers initially deployed EoF services to connect enterprise LANs across
metro regions over fiber, and several carriers have active EoF services
today. Enterprise customers generally use the service as a replacement or
addition to a lower-speed ATM or Frame Relay data service for Internet
access or site-to-site connections. EoF service is usually available as
point-to-point or multipoint-to-multipoint at the following bandwidth
levels: 10 to 100 Mbps and 1 Gbps.
The foundation of an EoF network is either a point-to-point Ethernet
connection through carrier-grade Ethernet switches or a mesh network of
Ethernet switches. Enterprises connect to the Ethernet core network at
the central office through a fiber interface powered by an optical device
that drops an Ethernet connection to the user, and an enterprise
connection may have two diverse routes from the enterprise site to the
central office or POP.
Enterprises need to be cautious, because some EoF network services offer
best efforts only. Where service providers do not provide SLAs, packet
transport performance is limited by subscription levels. When these
networks are oversubscribed, latency and jitter across paths increase. As a
result, enterprises can see a marked decrease in network performance,
which affects applications that use the EoF link.
Newer EoF networks are addressing latency and restoration time issues
found in earlier networks. Carriers now use MPLS traffic engineering
capability inside the core of an EoF network to offer point-to-point
services, along with multipoint-to-multipoint services enabled by VPLS, a
new standard that uses MPLS and the Martini encapsulation scheme.
VPLS gives carriers a way to deliver virtual private network services,
commonly referred to as E-LANs by the Metro Ethernet Forum. Local
area specifications for Ethernet do not scale in the wide area because the
number of VLAN tags is limited by specification. VPLS overcomes this
problem and provides additional resiliency. Some carriers have adopted
VPLS in their networks, while others plan to deploy the technology to
offer robust VPN, multipoint services. These point-to-point and
multipoint-to-multipoint services can provide reduced latency and
decreased restoration time of less than 50 ms, equal to the restoration
time of EoS or EoW. These EoF-MPLS networks are being adopted by
enterprises because they offer SLAs that are similar to those available
through ATM and Frame Relay.
The key advantages of EoF-MPLS are competitive pricing and availability.
The key disadvantage of EoF-MPLS is its higher latency caused by
buffering of traffic as it traverses multiple Ethernet switches.
In addition to MPLS, another solution is to use Ethernet-over-SDH at the
core to take advantage of SDHs proven reliability. This has the important
added advantage of facilitating handoffs to the installed base of legacy
infrastructure found in carrier networks today. EoF with MPLS or SDH at
its core will become more attractive to business users who may move
away from their existing lower-speed Frame Relay and ATM services.

Ethernet-over-SDH Expands Across Networks


Ethernet-over-SDH emerged as carriers and system vendors developed
specifications to extend the functionality of SDH networks to support
Ethernet traffic at bandwidth levels that are friendly to enterprise
applications. To ensure consistent deployment across SDH networks, rapid
adoption, and eventual ubiquity, Ethernet-over-SDH is anchored by a set
of standards developed by leading SDH vendors.
There are two types of EoS services:
EoS Leased line (EoS LL) uses a dedicated SDH channel per customer.
Essentially, EoS LL is a Leased Line service with a native Ethernet interface.
Switched EoS (Sw EoS) shares an SDH connection among several
enterprises. To ensure service quality, each enterprise is assigned a VLAN
tag and specific QoS through a committed information rate (CIR) for
guaranteed bandwidth and a peak information rate (PIR) for traffic bursts.
Effectively, Sw EoS offers a bandwidth-guaranteed Ethernet service that
takes advantage of the low latency and minimal jitter of SDH at a lower
price than EoS LL.
EoS Leased Line and Switched EoS are the premier Ethernet WAN
transport services and offer the following advantages:
Very low latency, since buffering is administered only on the ingress and
egress switches and not across intermediate switches
Very high resiliency and restoration. EoS LL as a TDM service takes
advantage of SDHs 50 ms restoration, while Sw EoS can use SDH or
LCAS for 50 ms restoration and Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol which
restores from 50 ms to seconds
Low jitter
Guaranteed quality for EoS LL, since it is a TDM service, and high QoS for
Sw EoS since it offers CIR and PIR on VLAN-designated traffic
Resilient transport across multiple sites for TDM, voice (packet and TDM)
and data services with ring technology
EoS LL is well suited to augment or replace an existing leased line service
like E1, E3 or STM-1, while Sw EoS is better suited to augment or replace
Frame Relay or ATM connections. Together, EoS LL and Sw EoS can
support all business Ethernet WAN transport needs.
National carriers are significant providers of EoS services with services
available in leading metropolitan centers in Europe. Carriers deploy EoS
using new multiservice provisioning platforms (MSPPs) or existing SDH
equipment, coupled with EoS line cards or external devices that map
native Ethernet traffic to SDH frames. Service providers have also adapted
service management systems to support Ethernet. They currently offer
point-to-point services through EoS LL and may offer multipoint-tomultipoint service through Sw EoS.

Ultra-High Bandwidth of Ethernet-over-WDM


Attracts Data Center Use
Ethernet-over-WDM emerged as carriers wanted to offer ultra-high
bandwidth services (GigE level) to connect customers data centers and
meet the needs of other specialized, bandwidth-hungry applications, such
as video transport. In addition, EoW also supports storage network
transport and large file transfers between corporate sites or data centers.
EoW is deployed using either Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexer
(DWDM) or Coarse Wavelength Division Multiplexer (CWDM)
technology. Generally, carriers use less-expensive CWDM to connect the
customer site to the service provider POP and DWDM between POPs to
transport site-to-site traffic. However, some carriers may use DWDM
across the entire network from customer site to POP. EoW offers high
potential resiliency through optical protection at 50 ms or less and very
low latency. Protected and unprotected links are available.
Service providers offer Ethernet-over-WDM services at 1 Gbps and 10
Gbps. In addition to Ethernet, many wavelength services offer support for
multiple protocols, such as ESCON, FICON and Fibre Channel. EoWs
primary strength is augmenting leased line data connections to support
storage and ultra-high speed data transport.

Choose Service Based On Application Requirements


According to a recent survey by International Orange Strategies, a leading
telecommunications analyst firm, file transfer, Internet access, LAN-toLAN and e-mail communications are the dominant applications for many
medium to large enterprises with at least 3 E1s of bandwidth, while VoIP
and storage transport applications also feature prominently.
In order to support these services through Carrier Ethernet, enterprises
need to weigh their bandwidth requirements and the latency and
resiliency characteristics of the various Ethernet services. EoS and EoW
have low latency because they require minimal packet buffering across
nodes. With EoF-MPLS, latency is greater and degrades per node and does
not compare to the levels offered by EoS or EoW. Graph 1 compares
relative latency among EoF-MPLS, EoS and EoW.
Latency End-to-End
3.0

Normalized

2.5
2
1.5

Latency

1
0.5

* Normalized latency with EoS = 1 per


node. The lower the number the better
the latency.

0
EoW

EoS

Graph 1. Normalized End-to-End Latency*

EoF- MPLS

Common enterprise applications like traditional LAN-to-LAN transport,


email, Internet access and latency-dependent applications such as VoIP,
storage networking, imaging and video can be transported through MPLSengineered EoF services, EoS or EoW.
Network resiliency and restoration time can be different across EoS, EoFMPLS and EoW. EoS Leased line offers failover within 50 ms. Switched
EoS can provide failover to 50 ms depending on the restoration scheme,
and EoW provides failover as quickly as EoS. EoF-MPLS networks has
restoration goals of within 50 ms.
According to a leading market research firm*, medium and large
* International Orange Strategies
enterprises give high priority to reliability, redundant connections, service
level agreements and low latency. Table 2 summarizes how each Carrier
Ethernet service measures up to these concerns.
Service
Attribute

EoS LL

Sw EoS

EoF

EoW

Reliability and
restoration

High with
50 ms
restoration
time

Medium to high with


50 ms restoration time
available through SDH
or LCAS or greater if
RSTP is used

Medium to high,
with target of
50 ms

High with
50 ms
restoration
time

Redundant
Connections

Available

Available

Available, but
not-standard

Available

SLAs

Guaranteed

CIR, PIR, with PIR > CIR

CIR, PIR, with PIR Guaranteed


= CIR generally

Latency

Low

Low

Medium

Low

Table 2. Comparison of Ethernet Features Important To Enterprises

Carrier Ethernet Service Capabilities


Encourage Widespread Use
Enterprise customers have a number of options for Ethernet services
across the WAN.
Many enterprise applications such as e-mail, Web access, VoIP and file
transfer can be adequately served by EoF-MPLS and services from such
networks will attract more ATM and Frame Relay users for common
enterprise application demands.
Multipoint applications such as VPNs can be served through EoF-MPLS
networks by using VPLS as the enabling technology
EoS LL and Sw EoS are premier Ethernet services offering high resiliency
and low latency at a variety of bandwidth levels. This makes them
appropriate for most, if not all, enterprise business applications, including
e-mail, file transfer, VoIP, storage transport, imaging and Internet access.
As a ring-based service, EoS is highly suitable for connections with
multiple sites and for transport of TDM voice and data services.

EoW offers ultra-high bandwidth with low latencies and high resiliency,
making it ideal for very large file transfer and storage transport. In
addition to data center connectivity, enterprises can use EoW between
other bandwidth-hungry links.
These Carrier Ethernet options allow medium and large enterprises to
select the most appropriate way to meet their existing business
requirements. They can choose among services from their incumbent
national service provider or existing WAN vendor, enjoy more bandwidth
and benefit from the operational savings that are available through
Carrier Ethernet.

The author wishes to recognize Bell Laboratories for their contribution to this paper.

10

Glossary
Committed Information Rate (CIR) The throughput rate provided a service

provider guarantees for a network service.


Ethernet-over-SDH Leased Line (EoS LL) A service that allows enterprises
to connect multiple locations using Ethernet as an end-to-end protocol
over a SDH ring. EoS LL uses a dedicated SDH channel to transport the
Ethernet traffic end-to-end. EoS LL corresponds to the Metro Ethernet
Forums E-Line service.
Generic Framing Procedure (GFP) GFP provides a bandwidth efficient way

to map multiple protocols (eg., Etherent) onto packets for transport over
an optical network such as SDH.
Link Capacity Adjustment Scheme (LCAS) A signaling protocol used in

relation to the hitless increase and decrease of SDH bandwidth.


Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) MPLS is a set of standards that
bridges the gap between connectionless IP networks, where routing
decisions are made at every hop, and connection-oriented networks that
deliver point-to-point services such as ATM and Frame Relay. MPLS uses
pre-determined data connections, known as Label Switched Paths (LSPs),
to transport traffic through core networks. Like ATM virtual circuits, these
MPLS LSPs have defined properties such as bandwidth availability,
bandwidth utilization and a QoS level. MPLS standards define Fast
Reroute recovery mechanisms to survive link or nodal failures with the
goal of a 50 ms restoration.
Packet Buffering Memory deployed in networking equipment to manage
the flow of packets in and out of line cards, and thus in and out of
networking nodes. They are used in conjunction with packet classification
and processing functions performed by the switch or router. Packet
buffers add some latency in the transmission of packets through a
networking node, however.
Peak Information Rate (PIR) Defines an upper limit to the throughput rate

a service provider allows for a network service. Traffic can burst beyond
the CIR up to the PIR in cases where the PIR > CIR.
Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol (RSTP) A standard to detect loops and

activate redundant paths to enable an Ethernet network to reconverge


and transmit traffic in event of a failure. Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol
improves upon Spanning Tree Protocol by speeding up reconvergence
time. It specifies all links as point-to-point rather than LAN connections
and eliminates the long timeouts before reconvergence.
Switched Ethernet-over-SDH (Sw EoS) A service that allows enterprises to

share an SDH connection among multiple locations using Ethernet as an


end-to-end protocol. Sw EoS enables a multipoint service that can be
compared to the Metro Ethernet Forums E-LAN service.
Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH) The standard for transmission on

optical fiber used by telecommunication operators for more than 10 years.


Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) A traditional multiplexing solution
where each signal is assigned to a time slot, classically used to carry PCM
voice, n x 64 Kbps leased lines or ISDN.
Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) A solution to multiplex optical
signals on the same fiber using a set of different wavelengths.

11

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Copyright 2005
Lucent Technologies Inc.
All rights reserved

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