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Legacy network architectures declining

By Max Burkhalter
September 20, 2011
Enterprises and small- and medium-sized businesses are more frequently replacing their ATM and frame relay network infrastructure with more contemporary WAN solutions, including MPLS and Ethernet WAN, according to a recent In-Stat study.

The increasing investments in MPLS should create a market value of $2.4 billion by 2015, while the values of other advanced WAN-related technologies are also expected to rise considerably during that time, according to Greg Potter, analyst for In-Stat.

Potter explained outdated WAN technologies have hit a point where they are no longer cost-effective or technically capable enough to meet current business needs.

"There's a lot of turnover in the older technologies - like ATM and frame relay - as people move from those technologies to MPLS and Ethernet ... [because of their] ease of use and lower cost," said Potter.

According to a TechTarget report analyzing In-Stat's findings, MPLS is not widely considered a state-of-the-art technology, as it has been around for a while. However, MPLS looks much better compared to frame relays and ATM infrastructure, making it a prime option for companies seeking a WAN update that will improve performance while also reducing perating costs.

Michael Vassallo, senior network administrator at interior design firm Dancker, Sellew and Douglas, told TechTarget the company uses meshed MPLS WAN infrastructure to support a primary headquarters and five branch offices that must be interconnected while also maintaining key quality of service standards.

"I don't find it surprising that spending on MPLS, Ethernet and cable is expected to rise while less dynamic services will remain flat. Companies are looking for advanced services, and those services are found with MPLS, emerging with Ethernet access ... and expanding [with] cable provider offerings," Vassallo told TechTarget.

Vassallo went on to say that ATM, DSL, and T1 networking systems will still be around for a while, but their extended lifecycle can be attributed to the lack of availability for more advanced, Ethernet-based options in some settings.

While the WAN-based Ethernet market is rapidly becoming clearer, with more businesses investing in MPLS and other advanced technologies, the carrier Ethernet is becoming confusing. A recent Insight Research study found carrier Ethernet, which is typically considered an enterprise-only technology. However, it is increasingly being offered as a consumer service, which could create significant confusion among telecom providers.


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