Carrier Ethernet for the Cloud

Date: Fri, 09/14/2012 - 10:45 Source: MEF PR Department

“Cloud” need not mean “Internet”. Ethernet service providers should grasp the opportunity to deliver business class cloud services. The MEF Cloud Project points the way
Carrier Ethernet for the Cloud

Ralph Santitoro, Editor, Fujitsu

Image credited to MEF

“The Cloud” has become a general-purpose buzz-phrase, embracing “cloud services”, “the private cloud”, “cloud computing” etc, but its origin as a convenient metaphor for the Internet has left people with the mistaken idea that “Cloud equals Internet”.
So a Cloud Service offering, they believe, means a service running across the Internet – with all the problems of security vulnerabilities, unpredictable performance, and compliance challenges regarding data governance that they associate with the Internet.
Cloud services are indeed delivered over a wide area network (WAN), but it need not be the public Internet, which just happens to be the planet’s most ubiquitous WAN. In fact, for business-class services, Carrier Ethernet has become the wide area networking technology of choice in more than 100 countries.
Considering how critical the WAN’s role is for delivering quality of experience (QoE) to end users, there has been surprisingly little focus on the WAN by the cloud community. Enterprises are understandably reluctant to embrace mission-critical private cloud applications delivered over the Internet because of its service limitations.
Recognising  the importance of the WAN, and the potential contribution of Carrier Ethernet to cloud development, the MEF (Metro Ethernet Forum) has launched a project focusing on the vital role of Carrier Ethernet networks and services in the delivery of cloud services – beginning with private cloud services – to enterprises.
The MEF has issued a White Paper – Carrier Ethernet for Delivery of Private Cloud Services edited by Ralph Santitoro, Fujitsu – to provide an overview of the topic for the benefit of Ethernet Carriers. This article, based on V1.1 of that paper, outlines the work so far.

The MEF Cloud Project
The first phase of the MEF Cloud project introduces the idea of delivering private cloud services via Carrier Ethernet, in order to develop new Ethernet service attributes to better align with the dynamic, on-demand nature of cloud services. 
Enterprises have for years relied on communications service providers for providing general WAN services, but may not realize that they can now ask for private cloud services in addition to their existing Ethernet WAN services. With the new generation Carrier Ethernet, there are new opportunities for telecommunications service providers, Ethernet Exchange providers and MSOs to provide enterprise customers with on-net data center co-location facilities via a Cloud Service Provider – resulting in better and more predictable cloud service performance, improved security and better control over the enterprise’s data governance and regulatory compliance requirements.
Carrier Ethernet gives the IT department more control over the delivery of cloud-based services without the risks associated with the Internet. It meets the enterprise’s need for high performance with secure and controlled access to private cloud applications. It also facilitates compliance with corporate governance demands –a real challenge for cloud services delivered over the Internet. It also ensures predictable end user QoE, because the private cloud service delivery is controlled from end to end.
With a single connection to an Ethernet Service Provider, the Cloud Service Provider can connect to Cloud Consumers over a dedicated network connection or a Layer 2 VPN. The same Carrier Ethernet network can also link the enterprise network to the Internet for delivery of public cloud services.

Cloud definitions and terminology
NIST – the US National Institute of Standards and Technology – has a specific “Architecture and Taxonomy Working Group”, developing a reference architecture for the cloud. The MEF has adapted its definitions for Carrier Ethernet within cloud computing.
According to NIST: Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources, e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services, that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.

Three types of cloud services are recognized:

• SaaS- Software as a Service provides the applications for business process operations for Business users, software application administrators
• PaaS- Platform as a Service provides the development, testing, deployment and management of applications hosted in a cloud environment for application developers, testers and administrators
• IaaS- Infrastructure as a Service provides the creation, management and monitoring of compute, storage and network resources for IT infrastructure operations System developers, administrators and IT managers

Carrier Ethernet definitions and terminology
Carrier Ethernet (CE) was defined by the Metro Ethernet Forum in 2005 in order to promote Ethernet in the WAN. Additional attributes were needed for wide area connectivity – such as supporting multiple subscribers over a common network infrastructure and being able to troubleshoot network issues remotely. So the MEF defined Carrier Ethernet with five additional attributes: Standardized Services, Scalability, Reliability, Service Management and Quality of Service. The MEF also defined three basic service types:

• E-Line for point-to-point connectivity
• E-LAN for multipoint-to-multipoint connectivity
• E-Tree for rooted-multipoint connectivity

In addition, it has since defined:

• E-Access encompassing all services that interconnect an ENNI with at least one UNI

These service types use end-to-end Ethernet virtual connections (EVCs) between user-to-network (UNI) interfaces. Each EVC can have a bandwidth profile that specifies the committed and excess information rates (CIR and EIR) to which traffic is transmitted to or received from the Ethernet service provider’s network. The EVC may also support one or more classes of service and measurable Quality of Service (QoS) performance metrics, such as frame delay (latency) and frame loss, to accommodate various application performance requirements. The MEF has defined these Ethernet services independent of the underlying transport network technology.
Within each Ethernet Service Type, the MEF defines Ethernet services based on whether a single Ethernet service instance is supported at the UNI (port-based or Private services) or whether multiple Ethernet service instances are supported at the UNI(VLAN-based or Virtual Private services). One of the benefits of a VLAN-based service is the ability to multiplex multiple services onto a single UNI saving the cost of an additional Ethernet port on an Ethernet service subscriber’s WAN attaching devices.

Carrier Ethernet is the fastest growing wide area networking technology for delivery of business-class servicesto the enterprise. The current hottest business IT topics are cloud computing and cloud services – with a potentially massiveimpact on the Ethernet services market.
Cloud computing is currently limited by the traditional emphasis on Internet connectivity, meaning that it is trusted to support non-critical business applications. This year, however, has seen the launch of Carrier Ethernet 2.0, with its added emphasis on multi-CoS, multi-network manageability – in particular, the new E-Access services that open up wider opportunities for wholesale services. Not only is Carrier Ethernet now able to extend the WAN further and faster, it is also becoming the ideal medium for the secure and reliable delivery of private cloud connectivity.
It is now time for enterprises to take a fresh look at their Ethernet service providers’ offerings, and prepare for future business in the cloud.

For further information see the MEF White Paper:
Carrier Ethernet for Delivery of Private Cloud Services – An overview of the MEF Ethernet Services for Cloud Service Providers and Cloud Service Concepts for Carrier Ethernet Service Providers. February 2012. Editor: Ralph Santitoro, Fujitsu. Contributors: Christopher Cullan, InfoVista; Yoav Cohen; Enrique Hernandez-Valencia, Alcatel-Lucent; SteveHolmgren, at&t; Mehmet Toy, Comcast; Lucy Yong, Huawei; Ellis Reid, Intune Networks; Mark Fishburn, MEF; Andy Mayer, Applied Communications Science.


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