Cisco Helps Service Providers Move to Carrier Ethernet

Cisco's new switch platform will allow carriers to leverage their fiber infrastructure to deliver new services such as business-class VPN services over Ethernet.

Cisco Systems on Feb. 21 will expand its new carrier access offerings designed to help service providers create next-generation services when it launches a new Metro Ethernet and Metro Access platform.

The new Cisco ME 6524 Series Ethernet Switch is the second platform in Ciscos new line of Metro Ethernet platforms. The switch is intended to allow carriers to leverage their fiber infrastructure to deliver new services such as consumer triple play (voice, video and data) as well as business-class VPN services over Ethernet.

The new Cisco ONS 15310 MA (Metro Access) MSPP (multiservice provisioning platform) provides Ethernet services over SONET infrastructures.

Along with those new platforms, Cisco also added a new Carrier Ethernet practice in its professional services organization that adds systems integration services to help carriers design, deploy and optimize the Cisco products for next-generation services, according to Mark Milinkovich, marketing director for Ciscos Service Provider Products and Technologies organization in San Jose, Calif.

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Cisco sees Carrier Ethernet as "the converged layer for intelligent services. Ethernet is a well-known interface; it can have a lot of encapsulation mechanisms; [carriers] can apply Quality of Service; and its low-cost and ubiquitous," he said.

Ciscos new Metro Ethernet and Metro Access platforms are designed to help carriers migrate to Carrier Ethernet, regardless of the type of infrastructure or service architecture theyre using on installed fiber networks.

"That fiber infrastructure deployed today is a strategic asset for the carriers to deliver advanced services such as triple play or IP TV. How each one uses that asset is different," he said.

Verizon, for example, uses Cisco Catalyst 6500 switches for a switched Ethernet service that uses IEEE 802.1Q encapsulation to create secure, point-to-point links between customers VLANs, he said.

Despite the relatively new Metro Ethernet product line, Cisco has already amassed significant market share for Carrier Ethernet switches and routers, according to Michael Howard, founder of Infonetics Research, also in San Jose.

"It turns out Cisco has a huge market share, more than anyone in this area with their current lineup of Catalyst 6500 switches and IP [edge] routers. What they had not done is recognize a product aimed directly at Metro Ethernet," Howard said. Cisco had a 75 percent share in a $2.1 billion market last year, but it will not see that kind of share again because many more competitive products are coming into the market, he added.

The new Cisco ME 6524 Series platform, based on the Catalyst 6500, is a fixed configuration Metro Ethernet switch optimized for triple play consumer services and VPN business services.

It supports IP Multicast, provides security functions and offers MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching) as well as IP V 6 capabilities.

The new ONS 15310-MA multiservice provisioning platform, available today, enables Carrier Ethernet over SONET infrastructures by supporting both TDM (time division multiplexing) and Ethernet.

Both new hardware platforms are certified by the Metro Ethernet Forum under its MEF9 Carrier Ethernet standard specification.

The Cisco ME 6524 is due in the second quarter.

Editors Note: This story was updated to include information and comments from an analyst.

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