|Europe I 2010
|Networking 2010 – extending the enterprise
Ted Higase is Global Crossing’s Managing Director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Previously, Mr Higase was Global Crossing’s Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Experience Officer. Mr Higase also served as Global Crossing’s Executive Vice President for Worldwide Carrier Services and as President, Carrier Services for Asia Global Crossing, a separately listed subsidiary of Global Crossing. Prior to Asia Global Crossing, Mr Higase was Corporate Director and General Manager for the Medium-Size Business Corporate Accounts Division at Dell Computer Corporation in Japan and as Corporate Director, Dell Online for Asia Pacific. Mr Higase began his career with AT&T in Japan where he held a wide range of senior and executive positions in marketing, sales and business management, most recently as service line director for networked voice premises management at AT&T Solutions’ world headquarters in New Jersey, U.S. Mr Higase holds an M.B.A. from Drake University and a B.A. in International Relations from the University of California, Davis. He has also attended the Executive Development Program at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Next-generation enterprise applications – such as disaster recovery, storage, and packet voice and video – are driving steep increases in bandwidth demand. Traditional data using legacy technologies (such as private line, Frame Relay, and ATM) are not sufficient. They are expensive to scale, limited, inflexible, operationally complex, and slow to upgrade. Extending Ethernet beyond the LAN to the WAN with Ethernet VPLS offers an effective alternative to traditional broadband with greater performance, flexibility and reliability, all at relatively low cost.
This time last year, we were all talking about ‘doing more with less.’ Now, as the world prepares to emerge from a recession that has engulfed businesses globally for the past twelve months, we’re simply talking about ‘doing more full-stop.’ As businesses begin fighting for customers and market share, agility and flexibility will be key to their success. Networks will be under enormous pressure as organizations react to changing market conditions and wish to connect with suppliers, partners and customers across the globe quickly and effectively. At the moment, most companies rely on Ethernet-based local area networks as their primary communications technology. Factors contributing to its popularity are reliability, ease of adding bandwidth in small increments, potential lower costs and interoperability with traditional broadband access technologies used over the WAN. In addition, because Ethernet is a mature technology, most enterprises already have people on staff with Ethernet management skills, avoiding the need for training or new hiring. However, the increasing demand for data communications is forcing enterprises of all sizes to re-evaluate their current networks. With next-generation enterprise applications – such as disaster recovery, storage, and packet voice and video – driving steep increases in bandwidth demand, enterprise IT managers have quickly realized that traditional data services on legacy technologies (such as private line, Frame Relay, and ATM) simply do not suffice. Traditional data services are expensive to scale, limited and inflexible in their service options, operationally complex, and painfully slow to upgrade. Enterprise IT managers are charged with the extremely difficult task of satisfying rapidly increasing bandwidth requirements with dwindling budgets and services that cannot meet their needs. Wide area Ethernet Instead, companies should extend Ethernet beyond the LAN to the WAN. This strategy offers a much more effective alternative to traditional broadband transport methods and will help organizations gain greater performance, flexibility and reliability at relatively low cost. Ovum expects this trend to be a key theme of the upturn; they suggested in a recent report that the Ethernet VPLS (or Virtual Private LAN Services) market will rise by 37 per cent over the next four years. A wide area Ethernet service empowers businesses to cost-effectively connect multiple sites to each other and to the Internet. It coexists with other broadband transport methods, which might already use, extending the life of existing network investments. In addition, because Ethernet wide area transport is IP-compatible, companies can take advantage of IP applications for productivity and business resilience that are difficult to deploy over a TDM or Frame Relay network. These applications include: • Hosted telephony; • Voice over IP (VoIP); • Streaming and broadcast video; • Real-time applications such as collaborative development; • Secure Layer 2 and Layer 3 VPNs; • Business intranets and extranets; • Network security; • Storage area networking and hosting; and • Disaster recovery. Defining the Ethernet wide area transport service Wide area Ethernet transport services may be provided over a dedicated MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) backbone network to ensure fast, reliable service. The MPLS backbone provides high-speed, region-to-region connectivity and access to the Internet. It also allows for visibility of the regional systems by a network operations centre (NOC). MPLS backbones allow the service provider to improve the customer experience by using a private, managed, network to route traffic and avoid as much of the congestion on the public Internet as possible. More recently, Ethernet wide area transport solutions are provided using variations of Ethernet Virtual Private LAN services (VPLS). VPLS is the use of Ethernet to recreate a wide area network: VPLS incorporates the best features of IP VPN, Frame Relay and ATM. While VPLS still relies on the Service Provider to manage the core of the network, but as a Layer 2 technology, it enables the user to manage routing information. It also provides the mesh, hub and spoke and point- to-point technologies of Frame Relay without all of the wasted bandwidth associated with ATM Cell Tax. VPLS is essentially a very large bridged domain, where all Provider Edge (PE) devices act together like a big switch. A switch functions by learning the Media Access Control (MAC) addresses of the devices connected to its ports, then stores those MAC addresses in a table that is consulted any time traffic is sent to the switch to facilitate routing. Traditionally, Layer 2 services from service providers have been point-to-point. With new Layer 2 architectures like VPLS, the multipoint nature of the Ethernet LAN is extended over a WAN. Layer 2 VPNs appeal to subscribers who run their own Layer 3 networks over the wide area and require Layer 2 connectivity from service providers. Layer 2 VPNs also directly support multiprotocol applications (such as IPX, DecNet, Appletalk, IP multicast, and NetBIOS). Layer 3 VPNs appeal to customers who wish to use IP connectivity and partner with a service provider at Layer 3 to support site routing and multicast applications within a WAN. VPLS: the business value Simplification – VPLS is an appropriate solution for organizations with more than one location, or those with frequent adds, moves, or changes to locations on the network. Because of the automatic discovery of locations on the network through the BGP auto-discovery capability, these modifications are simple in comparison with the complexity inherent to legacy services in a multipoint- to- multipoint network. Security – There are many inherent benefits to security inside a Layer 2 network, much like the security that Frame Relay and ATM provide. With a Layer 2 network, the customer again retains the routing control of their own network. However, gone are the days where a customer would have to run a generic routing encapsulation (GRE) tunnel over existing protocols to get routing to work properly. Now, all a customer has to do to control the routing is change the Customer Edge (CE) device, which also controls the traffic flow over the same network. The other key security benefit is the logical isolation of traffic from other customers. It’s much more beneficial than a Layer 3 VPN where a customer’s only protection from another customer is the IP address of end points on the CE. All customer devices appear to be inside a single Bridge domain. Service differentiation – To deliver differentiated services, service provider networks deliver a particular kind of service based on the QoS (quality of service) specified by each packet or frame. The network uses the QoS specification to classify, mark, shape, and police traffic and to perform intelligent queuing. In a wide area Ethernet environment, service providers can implement QoS using several techniques, including classification and marking, traffic conditioning, congestion avoidance, and congestion management. Flexibility – The flexibility of the LAN extends to the WAN using the any-to-any connectivity that has become so prevalent with Ethernet, and which is therefore available with VPLS. VPLS has the ability to support other non-IP traffic types. IPX, SNA and bridging traffic just flow over the VPLS without issues, as do any other higher layer protocols. Additionally, this supports access and local loop flexibility that is truly unique in long haul technology, whether copper or fibre-based, only requiring new lasers for long distances. Cost effectiveness – The cost effectiveness of the service is ensured through the use of low cost interfaces, both on the customer side and on the service provider side. Furthermore, scalable bandwidth provides the customer with the ability to grow a location from a few megabits to a few Gigabits with very few changes to the physical topology. Essentially, a customer can grow an organization and stay within the chosen family of products. Allowing customers to burst within their committed information rate (CIR) tier provides freedom to increase traffic without fear of performance degradation induced by full network pipes. This becomes even more important when supported by a usage-based billing component. Most enterprise users and service providers have existing staff with in-depth Ethernet knowledge, and familiarity with their respective networks. Hence, little additional training or skills development is needed to implement wide area Ethernet transport solutions like VPLS. Finally, Ethernet is easy to manage. From the network perspective, the customer need only connect to the network and start sending traffic, similar to setting up a LAN by connecting the computers to the switch – the network does all the learning. The future Ethernet services are helping make data networking simple again. And while ‘wide area Ethernet’ is not a term many are used to, it’s not actually as futuristic as some may think; it’s simply a logical progression from the way organizations are currently handling data services. Many companies are still reeling from the impact of the downturn, but during this year they must start looking ahead. Having the necessary infrastructure in place to handle expansion in the upturn will be crucial to their business plans, and fundamental to their success.