Thursday, July 17, 2014

Blueprint: Enterprise Agility – How the CE Services Market Will Top $50bn in 2015

by Kevin Vachon, COO of the MEF

Increased enterprise agility and a dramatic boost to user productivity are promised by the latest wave of dynamic CE services now coming to market – a market set to grow by several percentage points in size to over $50bn globally in the next five years.

Research and analysis firms Frost & Sullivan, Vertical Systems and Infonetics are all predicting an Ethernet services market worth approximately $50 billion by 2015, several percentage points ahead of the present market position.

The MEF (MetroEthernet Forum) is the catalyst behind today’s $45B global Carrier Ethernet services market. At the MEF’s inception in 2001, the “metro Ethernet” market was fragmented into a number of services – e.g. Optical Ethernet, Switched Ethernet, and Metro Ethernet – with vastly different capabilities, often without carrier class capabilities or service level agreements (SLAs) and limited to “best effort” performance. The MEF created a collaborative environment, including service providers and network solution providers, to jointly define and standardize “Carrier Ethernet” towards today’s high quality service.  By creating technical specifications, implementation agreements and certifying services, equipment and people, the MEF has enabled a holistic ecosystem responsible for Carrier Ethernet’s subsequent market growth.

What now, and what is needed

Packet-centric applications now dominate circuit-based applications and voice, video and data all share a common network infrastructure with the risk of conflict and service degradation. Voice communications is decoupled from the underlying infrastructure of telephones and PSTNs and runs as an “app” on devices connected to the Internet.  No longer is the service either up or down, with the presence or absence of a dial tone: VoIP can suffer impairments such as echo or voice distortion, through dropped or delayed delivery of voice packets. A better service can be assured using private networks, but at the cost of reduced flexibility in terms of activation times and purchase models where the service providers require long-term leases to commit to the service assurances required.

We are, however, moving rapidly towards an even more dynamically connected future. Machine-to-machine (M2M) communications will push connectivity way beyond the number of connected humans, with connected cars, smartwatches and devices, tablets, intelligent control systems and sensors coming on line and communicating to automate our lives. Each of these applications will demand their own service levels, and degradation will be unacceptable in many cases. This will only be possible if the network infrastructure transforms to enable cloud and mobile services that connect people and machines in real-time, on-demand, with assured QoS and quality of experience (QoE).

As a practical example, consider mobile workers connecting over the Internet via IP VPN to their office network. This is fine for checking e-mail, swapping documents etc, but critical communications such as a videoconference can suffer degradation from other users sharing access or from congestion in the ISP’s network. It should be possible to request (and be billed for) a higher performance connection to the office just for the duration of the connection.

For the second example, an enterprise subscriber wants a network service to interconnect locations to their virtual machines (VMs) or Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) in a remote data center.  This is only possible by using a number of transit service provider networks between the data center and the locations. So each of these network operators needs to orchestrate the setup of an appropriate internal networks and each of these operator-specific orchestrations need to be reconciled together to ensure the full end-to-end service required. Orchestration between the service provider and the cloud provider is required to automate the service ordering, provisioning, and management (OAM) of the virtual connections across each respective network and to setup the physical and virtual endpoints. This is a complex job that can take months, but should be delivered promptly on demand to meet real business needs.

To support agile business we need connectivity between physical or virtual endpoints with dynamic attributes to suit on-demand cloud services.  Real-time applications that monitor performance should evolve to automatically request, or prompt the user to request, different classes of service as needed – eg reduced packet loss for the duration of a videoconference. The customer need only input basic information to order the service – e.g. service endpoint locations and service bandwidth in addition to billing information – in a manner similar to ordering cloud services, where components are ordered, fixed and recurring costs totalled, then the order is submitted.

Progress to date

The challenge of deploying networks across third party access vendors is already being addressed by a combination of existing technologies – Carrier Ethernet’s ubiquity and standardized connectivity; Software-defined networking (SDN); Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and real time Big Data analytics to correlate data from the many network elements and OSS, and continuously analyse it.

Whereas barely 20% of Carrier Ethernet services succeed first time, and it can take over a hundred days to turn up a circuit, these principles have improved inventory integrity to over 90% accuracy, significantly reducing fall-out and improved time to market – while on-going automation of auditing and inventory updates is cutting OpEx. The solution began with a data audit extracted and mapped to a structured format – including OSS sources, activation notices, SLA agreements with AVs, excel spreadsheets and inter-carrier agreements. Automated continuous audit could now identify bad data and even assign a quality indicator to simplify integrity assessment. Continuous correlation plus big data analytics identify risky changes, and check consistency and value ranges, and warnings are transmitted to the data owner. The system also provides a graphical overview of the topology, revealing actual circuit inventory details, simplifying ordering, provisioning and service assurance.

In a second example, workflow automation is cutting costs and accelerating service turn-up, leading to rapid growth of the provider’s footprint and capacity. An Additional Services Request (ASR) – eg Move, Add, Change or Delete network functions – is transmitted to the access vendor by web form, and changes are automatically broadcast to all network elements, without delay or risk of human error. This includes populating test equipment with updated test configurations so SOAM tests run automatically, and results are collated and reported.

In a third example real-time feeds are taken from existing monitors and summarized in a single customizable dashboard – registering alarms and correlating them to circuit segment states. Thresholds are set for each access vendor and used to benchmark SLA performance so reports can indicate exception events and leverage historical data to determine trends. Without manual work, the provider now benefits from lower MTTR, faster triage and root cause analysis – thanks to rapid, accurate isolation of degradation and better SLA penalty capture with authoritative proof and reporting


The Carrier Ethernet market has reached a turning point. The victim of its own success, it has given business a taste of global networking benefits, and is now struggling to deliver those advantages as seamlessly and fast as agile business requires.

The MEF is aware of the need and the challenges, and is laying the framework to enable new types of network connectivity, better aligned with cloud services and opening up new revenue opportunities for service providers and the ecosystem of network solution providers. This is good news for the enterprise and, ultimately, for the global economy.

About the Author

Appointed to the position of COO, Kevin Vachon is charged with leading the MEF’s expanding scope of activities to accelerate the implementation of the MEF mission. In the year prior to commencing this role, he worked with the MEF in a Senior Business Development capacity, increasing MEF awareness with industry stakeholders and growing member participation which now includes over 200 members.

Mr. Vachon held the position of CEO of DIATEM Networks Inc., a Carrier Ethernet software company from 2003 to 2005 and was Chairman, President and CEO of NUVO Network Management, a network management outsourcing firm, from 1996 to 2002. Previously, he held other senior management positions with NUVO and spent 10 years in a wide variety of capacities with Gandalf Technologies.

About the MEF

A communications industry alliance consisting of more than 225 member organizations, the MEF is the defining body for Carrier Ethernet and the driving force behind the global market for Carrier Ethernet services & technologies.

The MEF operates through a powerful collaborative framework where service providers, network solutions suppliers, and other member companies contribute to the development of technical and operational specification, certification, and marketing programs. The MEF has enabled Carrier Ethernet adoption and tremendous communications-related cost savings and productivity gains for service providers and end-users worldwide over the past decade.

Building on this success, the MEF is now focused on enabling a new generation of agile, assured connectivity services that are orchestrated over more efficient, automated, and interconnected global networks. For more information about the MEF – including details about services, network equipment, and professional certification – please visit

MIT's Fastpass Promises to Cut Data Center Latency

Researchers at MIT are developing a "Fastpass" network management system that promises to significantly reduce the latency between servers in hyperscale data centers.

According to a university blog, the MIT Fastpass system uses a central server called an "arbiter" to decide which nodes in the data center network may send data to other nodes in a designated time slot.  An arbiter based on the latest multicore silicon reportedly can keep up with a network carrying over 2 terabits of traffic.  The article estimates the system could reduce
latency in a Facebook data center by 99%.

The MIT researchers plans to present their work at an upcoming conference in August.

Orange Chooses Apigee to Deliver Telco Data and Services to Partners

Orange has selected Apigee’s digital platform to power the APIs (application programming interfaces) for Orange Partner, its business hub for developers, partners and start-ups programs.

The Orange Partner program exposes a portfolio of APIs that enable developers and partners to build rich mobile and Web applications using Orange core networks and services. Orange already promotes several APIs, including enriched communications with joyn, machine-to-machine, search and personal APIs.

Thierry Souche, SVP Orange Labs Products & Services, said: “We wanted to highlight and provide access to our portfolio of APIs and enhance our ecosystem’s developer journey through a simple self-service solution, and Apigee is the backbone technology that enables this. We selected Apigee for its innovative technology, for its thought leadership in APIs, apps and data, and for its experience with similar initiatives in other large enterprises.”

Apigee noted other telco customers, including AT&T, Globe Telecom, KT, Swisscom, Smart Communications, Telefonica and Vodafone.

  • Earlier this year, Apigee, which is based in San Jose, California, raised $60 million in venture financing for its API platform for enabling predictive analytics in digital interactions. Pine River Capital Management and Wellington Management Company participated as new investors in this round, along with current Apigee investors Norwest Venture Partners (NVP), Bay Partners, Third Point LLC, SAP Ventures, funds managed by BlackRock, Focus Ventures, and Accenture. With this financing, Apigee has raised $171 million to date. 

Ericsson Optimized Telefonica Brasil for World Cup

Ericsson supplied its Key Event Experience network optimization solution to support Telefonica | Vivo operations during the 2014 World Cup.

The Key Event Experience solution, which was used for the first time in Brazil by the operator, enhances the perceived quality of network operators by improving the user experience during periods of increased traffic.

Two servers were installed adjacent to the service provider's network management system to extract network performance data and report every 15 minutes during the period of the World Cup, to evaluate the performance of the network and indicate preventive actions.

Ericsson said its solution helps to meet demands when millions of users are concentrated in a specific area, sharing video, photos and tweets and pushing network capacity to its limit.

Juniper Tunes its DDoS Protection for Upstream Mitigation

Juniper Networks announced a set of improvements to its Juniper DDoS Secure solution to provide tighter integration into routing and service provider infrastructures with BGP Flowspec and GPRS Tunneling Protocol (GTP) protocols.  The goal is to enable new forms of protection that can more effectively and efficiently mitigate a variety of DDoS attacks without restricting or impacting normal service.

Highlights of the announcement include:

Upstream Attack Mitigation

  • DDoS Secure provides distributed enforcement at the network boundary that protects the edge equipment and the resources behind it from becoming overwhelmed, especially with larger and more challenging volumetric attacks.
  • The solution scales DDoS mitigation by extending enforcement upstream to Juniper's MX at the edge, border or closest to the attack source, allowing only clean traffic to enter the network.
  • As DDoS Secure continuously monitors inbound and outbound traffic, it can determine if a high-volume DDoS attack is underway and subsequently communicate with the MX router by publishing Flowspec rules to block the malicious traffic upstream.
  • Flowspec provides the ability to take enforcement actions such as source-based black hole filtering to drop malicious packets or redirecting traffic to select network points for mitigation.

Accurate Enforcement on Mobile Networks with GTP Network Protocol Unwrap

  • New capabilities protect against the growing problem that service providers face in detecting and mitigating malicious traffic originating from botnets exploiting users' devices.
  • The ability to inspect different network protocols becomes a key enabler in identifying legitimate traffic.
  • DDoS Secure provides visibility into malicious and/or errant mobile devices, identifying both User Equipment (UE) to UE and UE to Internet traffic.
  • DDoS Secure's ability to inspect GTP packets and identify malicious endpoints allows service providers to enforce mitigation, maintain performance and protect their Radio Access Network (RAN) bandwidth.
  • The new GTP packet unwrap capability allows DDoS Secure to identify inside-out bot attacks originating in the mobile service provider's access network. Botnet malware that enters mobile devices from home, at work or in the macro RAN can degrade legitimate user experience and also consume valuable mobile bandwidth. 

DNS Inside-Out Attack Protection

  • DDoS Secure protects the core DNS infrastructure from participating in DNS amplification and reflection attacks that are difficult to detect and can have disastrous effects on network availability.
  • In these attacks, the DNS server can become the victim of a DNS attack or can be used to launch a DNS amplification attack on another server.
  • DDoS Secure applies heuristics-based intelligence to automatically mitigate these attacks by black listing and rate limiting certain DNS requests. The solution can also generate a BGP Flowspec rule, allowing attack traffic to be blocked upstream at the MX.

CoreSite Offers High Precision Timing Service in its Data Center

CoreSite has begun offering "High Precision Time", a new certified timing service by Perseus Telecom, that is now available by direct interconnection from within CoreSite’s Northern Virginia Market. The service can be used to precisely synchronize time systems across multiple data centers and calibrate their perimeter to sub-nanoseconds of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) timescale.

Perseus specializes in high-speed global connectivity and managed services for the financial markets, iGaming, multi-media and eCommerce communities.

“High Precision Time provides financial market participants and other customers an accurate time synchronization solution,” said Dr. Jock Percy, Chief Executive at Perseus Telecom. “In addition to its certification and verification benefits, the service mitigates risk by offering the ability to stay ahead of any future time-stamping regulation. We are proud to bring High Precision Time to CoreSite’s Northern Virginia Market, given its proximity to financial markets and rich ecosystem of partners across all verticals.”

Linksys Ships New Line of Wi-Fi Range Extenders

Linksys introduce a new lineup of Wi-Fi Range Extenders for residential use. The new units are designed to extend b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi signals from any wireless router for up to 10,000 sq. ft. of coverage.  Linksys' Cross-Band technology enables the Wi-Fi signal to simultaneously receive data on one band and transmit on another, helping to overcome Wi-Fi deadzones in a home.

Linksys is also introducing an audio streaming capability for the Wi-Ri extenders, allowing the user to connect a stereo system or audio speakers to wirelessly stream music from a smart device or computer.

Orange Opens Large Scale PoP in Abidjan

Orange inaugurated West Africa’s first, very large-capacity IP Point of Presence (PoP) in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

This paves the way for other carriers and local ISPs to offer Internet connectivity in the region at much faster speeds and with better reliability than has been available to date.

Abidjan also hosts a landing point for the ACE submarine cable, a 17,000km-long cable which runs down the west coast of Africa from Europe.