Enterprise WAN Visibility: How to Ensure Performance of Carrier Ethernet Services

The increasing reliance on bandwidth-intensive applications for mission-critical business processes has resulted in the transformation of Ethernet from a LAN protocol to a WAN technology as well. Because of the advanced OEM capabilities and end-to-end network visibility that Carrier Ethernet offers, enterprises can be assured that providers honor service-level agreements. Here, Knowledge Center contributor Greg Gum explains how to ensure the performance of Carrier Ethernet services while reducing complexity.


As enterprises expand operations globally, borders between countries continue to blur. Business is being conducted cooperatively from a constellation of offices, and IT managers' challenges are growing. These challenges are growing beyond LAN management into the need to expand service applications to a mostly dynamic, geographically-dispersed client base on a global scale. Driven by the need for this expansion, and supported by Ethernet's rapid evolution from a simple LAN connectivity tool into a carrier-grade technology (and the de facto protocol for next-generation broadband networks), enterprise IT infrastructures have recently undergone a major transformation.

Today, as an important component of IT infrastructure, Ethernet is becoming the foundation for WANs, with mission-critical links for site-to-site connectivity and Internet access. Carrier Ethernet, with its differentiated service capabilities, higher bandwidth and compelling economics (compared to traditional WAN technologies), is further motivating enterprises to use Ethernet as the tool of choice. Enterprises are using it to expand their IP-based service applications between geographically-dispersed locations, while migrating to higher speed WAN connectivity.

This extension enhances multisite collaboration and boosts productivity, but also increases the burden on IT managers since the infrastructure investment to secure and optimize the LAN must now traverse the WAN-efficiently and cost-effectively regardless of the user locations. As a result, real-time network performance monitoring is an important tool for troubleshooting network problems and assuring network service reliability. Carrier Ethernet enables service providers to have greater control over their networks which, in turn, enables IT managers to have greater network predictability.

Recent statistics and case studies from the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF)have shown that enterprises can save significantly by moving toward Carrier Ethernet services. The primary motivation behind the departure from legacy frame relay, Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) and Synchronous Optical Network (SONET)/Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH) business services is economics, given that the typical 3-year costs of legacy solutions such as Private Line and frame relay are five to six times more expensive than Carrier Ethernet E-Line services.