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Adapting Ethernet for multiple service formats becoming essential

By Donna Donnawitz
December 27, 2011
As more businesses use their networks for voice, data, video and other forms of content, the ability to prioritize traffic efficiently is becoming a key need. While businesses can use quality of service capabilities, WAN optimization and other similar options to accomplish this task, prioritizing traffic is much more difficult at the service provider level. According to a recent EE Times report, adjusting core Ethernet setups can play a major role in making prioritization a possibility.

The news source explained that distributing Ethernet-based data packets through an isochronous circuit system is not an easy operation, and significant changes are needed at the architectural level to make this functionality an option.

The challenge in this process is to find a way to unify Ethernet traffic, which is coming through multiple network layers, into a single transit system that can be prioritized to meet diverse operational needs. Historically, service providers have enabled advanced Ethernet capabilities by enhancing layer 2 and layer 3 switches with more ports that operate at faster speeds. However, the report said recent advances in traffic prioritization make this solution inadequate for Ethernet networks.

To resolve this issue, service providers need to use Ethernet to unify the disparate data formats being transmitted in the layer 2 infrastructure. The report said this approach offers considerable gains for the service provider by flattening the network architecture, and consequently improving operational efficiencies.

It also benefits business users by giving them access to a more versatile service provider network that is capable of offering unified options from multiple vendors. This allows organizations to link to multiple operators instead of creating a single network tunnel to one provider. By establishing this level of flexibility, the key network interface device is suddenly able to function as a service-aware Ethernet platform that can prioritize traffic efficiently at the provider level.

Adjusting Ethernet infrastructure to support more diverse distribution formats is becoming prominent in a wide range of sectors, not just major service provider networks. A recent CED Magazine report explained that the IEEE is making major strides in unifying home networking protocols. This will allow telecommunications companies to deploy more interoperable Ethernet, Wi-Fi and other broadband services. Currently, the working group has published the new standard for home networks in draft form.

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