MEF Announces Carrier Ethernet 2.0 & Connection Oriented Ethernet for Private Clouds


Last week was a very big one for Carrier Ethernet.  It marked the launch of the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) Carrier Ethernet 2.0 (CE 2.0) and new announcements at the very informative Ethernet Technology Summit in San Jose, CA.  While the conference theme was “Ethernet everywhere” (with special emphasis on the Data Center), there were serveral presentations on Carrier Ethernet- including a market assessmennt/forecast as well as its potential as the WAN infrastructure to access Private Cloud services.

In this article, we provide an overview of CE 2.0and briefly describe MEF work on CE enhancements for robust and secure access to Private Cloud services.  A previous article summarized Infonetics’ Carrier Ethernet market assessment and forecast for Ethernet services (for business customers) as well as mobile backhaul.

I.  MEF announces CE 2.0:

Carrier Ethernet 2.0, announced February 23, 2012 by the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF), is characterized by three powerful and standardized features: Multiple Classes of Service (Multi-CoS), Interconnect and Manageability.  Collectively, these enable the delivery of differentiated applications over managed and interconnected global networks. CE 2.0 is generationally advanced from the standardized Ethernet services delivered over a single provider’s network which are now called Carrier Ethernet 1.0 (CE 1.0).

CE 2.0 greatly expands from 3 services in CE 1.0 to eight services, two of each respectively in E-Line, E-LAN, E-Tree, and E-Access, as defined in MEF Service Specifications and Implementation Agreements (MEF 6.1, 6.1.1, 22.1,33). CE 2.0 carries newly standardized service features of Multi-CoS (Class of Service) with Performance Objectives, Interconnect and Manageability.  These are facilitated through the integrated delivery of MEF Service Attributes (MEF 10.2, 10.2.1, 26.1), Implementation Agreements (MEF 13, 20, 23.1) and Management Specifications (MEF 7.1, 16, 17, 30, 31).

“For the Enterprise, CE 2.0 will mean more consistent performance levels and associated SLA’s regardless of office location; It will also enable enterprises to reach all their offices more efficiently on a global basis.  For the small/medium business, it will further the availability of capabilities such as Internet and hosted services on a single Carrier Ethernet connection, with higher SLA’s for those hosted services,” said Mike Volgende, Chairman of the MEF Board, and Director of Business Process Management at Verizon.

“For network equipment manufacturers, it means additional new markets and opportunities, augmenting already hot-selling Carrier Ethernet equipment.” said Phil Tilley, MEF Global Marketing Committee Co-Chair, Alcatel-Lucent Director Portfolio Strategy.

“For mobile operators, it means a foundation for additional efficiencies and cost-savings through implementation of Mobile-Backhaul-specific Multi-CoS performance objectives, packet and network-based synchronization, resiliency performance, and service OAM fault management.”

“For the retail service providers, it means that they can expand their footprint more efficiently globally; It also means the guarantee of certain performance criteria whether on or off net.” said Carlos Benavides, MEF Global Marketing Committee Co-Chair, Verizon Group Manager for Access Strategy.

“For the wholesale provider, it means increased revenue by more easily wholesaling existing footprint; it also means the standardized performance that must be delivered from the access network.”

“CE 2.0 underscores the MEF’s commitment to advance the industry and further promote the global adoption of Ethernet services through a new generation of standards,” said Karen Schmidt, MEF Board Member, Executive Director of Data Product Management & Strategy at Comcast Business Services. “Comcast has long-supported the standardization of Carrier Ethernet and we look forward to working with the MEF on CE 2.0 and the benefits it will bring to our mid-market customers.”

CE 2.0 references:

II.  Enhanced Carrier Ethernet for Private Cloud WANs:

Carrier over Ethernet Attributes - Image courtesy of Fujitsu
Carrier over Ethernet Attributes - Image courtesy of Fujitsu

At the recent Carrier Cloud Forum (held in conjunciton with Cloud Connect 2012 in Santa Clara, CA) Heavy Reading’s Ari Banerjee said that “MLPS/Ethernet standards need to evolve to provide a robust network backbone (WAN) for efficient cloud service delivery.”  In particular, to support the real time/on demand dispatch of workloads with high performance, solid security and minimum downtime (=very high availabilty/reliability).

Indeed, large enterprises have major issues with using the public Internet to access and deliver Cloud Computing services.  These issues include:  lack of performance guarantees (especially latency), security vulnerabilities, data governance, and regulatory compliance.

The WAN used for Cloud services is a critical component of end to end performance and SLAs.  Recognizing those challenges as an opportunity, the MEF is enhancing Carrier Ethernet and is working on standards for “Connection Oriented Ethernet” WANs for Private Cloud access and service delivery.

Cloud Service Delivery via Wan - Image courtesy of Fujitsu
Cloud Service Delivery via Wan - Image courtesy of Fujitsu

At the February 23, 2012 Ethernet Technology Summit session on “Ethernet and Cloud Computing,” Fujitsu’s Ralph Santitoro presented a talk entitled, “Connection-Oriented Ethernet for Delivery of Private Cloud Services.”

Is that an oxymoron?  How could Ethernet be connection oriented you ask, when it has always been connectionless, as in the context of any to any communications on a shared or switched LAN.  Here’s the answer:

“Connection Oriented Ethernet” is a high performance implementation of Carrier Ethernet for point to point and point (EPL) to multi-point (EVPL) metro and WANs.  Connections are set up using via the (proprietary, carrier specific) Management plane. Deterministic connections deliver guaranteed bandwidth, along with the desired latency and jitter performance required.

Connection Oriented Ethernet attributes include:

  • L2 aggregation of multiple virtual connections
  • Stat muxing and oversubscription
  • Flexible bandwidth granularity
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Deterministic QoS
  • Guaranteed Bandwidth
  • 99.999% Availability
  • Highest Security (Layer 1 service)

There are two basic approaches to Connection Oriented Ethernet:

1.  MPLS Centric- optimized for converging multiple network services/technologies (ATM, Frame Relay, TDM, IP, Ethernet) over a common transport network.  Uses either static (IETF) MPLS Pseudo-Wires or MPLS-TP* to transport Ethernet virtual connections (EVCs)

* T-MPLS was the predecessor of MPLS-TP.

2.  Ethernet Centric- optimized for Ethernet and IP services (running over Ethernet). Uses either PBB-TE or Ethernet Tag Switching to transport EVCs.

The Ethernet-centric approaches to COE use ITU-T and IEEE 802.3 recommendations provide <50ms protection and recovery from network failures, link OAM and service OAM.  These include:

  • ITU-T G.8031 EVC linear path protection
  • IEEE 802.3ad UNI & ENNI link level protection
  • IEEE 802.1ag EVC fault management
  • ITU-T Y.1731 EVC performance measurements

Standardization is still in progress in the ITU-T and IETF for the MPLS-centric approach to COE.  Key areas requiring standardization are in the areas of network protection and service OAM (service fault management and performance measurements).  The ITU-T draft recommendations under development include:

  • ITU G.8113.1 & G.8113.2 service OAM drafts.  G.8113.1 is modeled after the Ethernet-centric Y.1731 standard while G.8113.2, based on IETF work, uses an MPLS BFD-based implementation that is incompatible to G.8113.1.  Having two incompatible service OAM recommendations is creating angst in the industry and delaying standardization.
  • ITU G.8131 linear path protection & G.8132 ring path protection drafts.  G.8131 is modeled after the Ethernet-centric G.8031 standard.
Ethernet COE Ecosystem - Image courtesy of Fujitsu
Ethernet COE Ecosystem - Image courtesy of Fujitsu

Mr. Santitoro said that Private Cloud Service delivery via Connection Oriented Ethernet WANs would support mission critical apps with SLAs, unlike the public Internet.  It would also generate additional telecoms provider revenue.

In the earlier referenced Carrier Cloud Forum talk, Ralph said that the MEF has augmented NIST Cloud Definitions in two areas: Ethernet Cloud Carrier and Cloud Broker.

1.  Ethernet Cloud Carrier

The intermediary that provides Carrier Ethernet connectivity and transport of cloud services from Cloud Service Providers and Cloud Consumers and with other Ethernet Cloud Carriers.

2.  Cloud Broker– 3 possibilities

a]  Ethernet Cloud Carrier may act as a Cloud Broker.  In this case there is a business relationship between Ethernet Cloud Carrier and Cloud Consumer

  • Ethernet Cloud Carrier wholesales cloud services from Cloud Service Providers.  In the telecoms industry, this Cloud Broker analogous to telecom service provider delivering Internet access services
  • Telecom SP provides network connectivity to customer premises
  • Telecom SP provides Internet access service like an ISP

b]  Cloud Service Provider may act as a Cloud Broker.  The Cloud Service Provider has business relationship with Cloud Consumer

  • Cloud Service Provider wholesales network connectivity from Ethernet Cloud Carrier. In the telecoms industry, this Cloud Broker is analogous to an ISP
  • ISP wholesales access network connection from incumbent telecoms service provider who owns access lines to the customer premises
  • ISP provides network connectivity to customer premises and Internet access service

c} 3rd party can act as a Cloud Broker.  Cloud Broker has business relationship with Cloud Consumer

  • Cloud Broker wholesales network connectivity services from Ethernet Cloud Carrier and cloud services from one or more Cloud Service Providers.  In the telecoms industry, this Cloud Broker is analogous to a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO)
  • MVNO sells cellular voice/data services but does not own/operate a cellular wireless network

Ralph stated that new Carrier Ethernet Service Attributes are being evaluated by the MEF to better support Cloud Applications.  These include Elastic Ethernet Service Attributes, On-demand and reservation models, On-demand bandwidth approaches,  Network/Cloud/Subscriber Management Orchestration including End-to-End service management and SLAs.

In summary, Cloud Service Delivery via Carrier Ethernet WANs:

  • Addresses Internet challenges for mission critical apps.
  • Using Carrier Ethernet to connect to private cloud providers
  • Generates additional telecoms provider revenue
  • Private cloud services and Ethernet services with SLAs

Reference:  A new MEF Whitepaper on this subject matter should be available in a few weeks:  Carrier Ethernet for Delivery of Private Cloud Services

At the same Ethernet Technology Summit, David Howson, President Zayo Bandwidth (a provider of fiber bandwidth infrastructure solutions and carrier neutral colocation) announced the company was building ZE Cloud – an Ethernet over Fiber based infrastructure to sell to its carrier customers that plan to offer Cloud Computing services.  No details of ZeCloud were provided during the presentation, probably because it’s not completed yet.  However, it was said to offer the “benefits of Ethernet combined with the scalability of the Internet.”

III.  Conclusions:

After many years of slow growth, it’s great to see the Carrier Ethernet market now “booming.” Note that the MEF has been in existance for 10 years and has generated many specifications/implementation agreements during that time.  Equally astonishing is that the IEEE 802.3ah Ethernet First Mile (EFM) standard was completed in 2003, but wasn’t widely implemented till 2010-2011.  Why did it take the Carrier Ethernet market 8 or 9 years to ramp up and reach critical mass?

We are anxious to see what will come out of Carrier Ethernet 2.0 and if operators will wait a long time to deploy it (as they did with CE 1.0)

It’s somewhat surprising that mobile network operators are using Ethernet based backhaul when they still have so much TDM based cellular voice (even though mobile data traffic has now eclipsed voice, it’s voice that pays most of the bills).  We see tremendous promise and potential for Ethernet over fiber backhaul for the exponentially growing 4G data traffic.

Connection Oriented Ethernet for Private Cloud WANs seems like a good thing.  We wonder though, if large enterprises that already have deployed IP-MPLS VPNs wouldn’t prefer to extend those networks for both Private and Public cloud access.  That’s the approach that Savvis has taken with its shared private IP-MPLS network which provides high security, availability and guaranteed bandwidth and latency.  Will a layer 2 enhanced  Ethernet network be able to compete with a shared private IP-MPLS network offered by cloud service providers or cloud brokers?  Only time will tell.



7 thoughts on “MEF Announces Carrier Ethernet 2.0 & Connection Oriented Ethernet for Private Clouds

  1. Excellent article, especially the scoop on Connection Oriented Ethernet and the issue you raise of whether end users will trust a L2 “enhanced Ethernet” access for cloud services.

    As you point out, most medium and large sized businesses have IP-MPLS private networks. Why would they even consider Connection Oriented Ethernet? Moreover, how would they interconnect their IP-MPLS private networks to Connection Oriented Ethernet for any service, especially cloud computing?

  2. One would think that you’d interconnect an IP-MPLS private network to CO Ethernet via the MPLS Centric approach. The article above states, “Standardization is still in progress in the ITU-T and IETF for the MPLS-centric approach to COE.” Have no idea when the necessary standards will be in place and then implemented.

    Suggest you redirect your question to the MEF. Here’s a link to their new white paper:

    Courtesy of:

  3. Thanks for link to new MEF Whitepaper on Carrier Ethernet for Private Cloud Service delivery. The wgite paper makes no mention of “Connection Oriented Ethernet, so it really doesn’t answer the question of how to interconnect an IP-MPLS private network to COE offered by a cloud service provider or broker.

    It does differentiate Ethernet LANs from Carrier Ethernet (MANs and WANs) as follows:
    “Carrier Ethernet, unlike Ethernet used in the LAN, is differentiated by
    attributes uniquely required for wide area connectivity such as supporting
    multiple subscribers over a common network infrastructure and being able
    to troubleshoot network issues remotely. The MEF characterizes Carrier
    Ethernet by the following five attributes:
    – Standardized Services
    – Scalability
    – Reliability
    – Service Management
    – Quality of Service

    The MEF has defined three UNI-to-UNI Ethernet service types based on the type of connectivity they provide.
    1. E-Line for point-to-point connectivity
    2. E-LAN for multipoint-to-multipoint connectivity
    3. E-Tree for rooted-multipoint connectivity”

    It doesn’t seem the above attributes and services will be robust enough for Private Cloud WAN, especially if a private IP network has to interwork with it. Perhaps, work on COE is in its infancy, especially the MPLS Centric version???

    1. Maybe, we have to wait for CE 2.0 and the MPLS Centric Connection Oriented Ethernet (ITU-T & IETF) standards to be completed before most large users can accept CO Ethernet WAN for Private Cloud Service delivery.

      What about the mobile workforce? How will they access high performance cloud services? Just IP VPN or something else?

  4. My analogy for explaining the difference between standard Ethernet and carrier Ethernet is that it is like the transformation from a shared bachelor pad to a family household. The bachelor pad is very laissez-faire – as long as there is beer in the refrigerator and potato chips to eat (and the basic bills get paid), who cares? Perhaps things aren’t quite as clean as they might be, and stuff in the refrigerator is disgusting! You and your roommates (plus a few occasional stayovers) are the only people around, and they can take care of themselves. A family household is different. Now there has to be edible food in the refrigerator, everything has to be reasonably clean, the dry cleaning has to be picked up and delivered regularly, the dog has to be walked, and the kids have to be taken to the pediatrician, day care, school, soccer practice, etc. Carrier Ethernet is grown-up Ethernet with all the concerns that grownups have (life insurance, retirement plans, kids’ schools, kids’ allowances, kitchen remodeling, roof repair, etc.), none of which mattered when one got one’s first apartment! The transition takes time and involves a whole lot of rules, schedules, and regulations. Nan Chen is kind of Ethernet’s equivalent of Dr. Spock (the old pediatrician/author, not the Leonard Nimoy character on StarTrek)!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I accept that my given data and my IP address is sent to a server in the USA only for the purpose of spam prevention through the Akismet program.More information on Akismet and GDPR.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.