Metro Ethernet Means Business with New Cisco Switch Technology
Feature: Larry Birenbaum and Bernard Lamy on Taking the Metro Ethernet Edge to a New Level for Business Users Catalyst 3750 Metro Series Innovators: Cisco Brings Performance, Flexibility to Metro Ethernet Market Li Tung Wang: A Shocking Discovery Leads to Innovative Career Scott Shumate: Problem-Solving Enthusiasm Spearheads Metro Ethernet Innovation Related Material: Related Cisco Catalyst 3750 Metro Series Q&A Cisco Catalyst 3750 Metro Series Data Sheet Cisco Catalyst 3750 Metro Series IOS Release Product Bulletin Cisco IOS Software Release 12.2(17a)SXA Metro Ethernet Technology on the Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Q&A Switching News Service Provider News White Paper: QoS on Cisco Catalyst 3750 Metro Series
January 20, 2004
By Jason Deign, News@Cisco
Metro Ethernet service providers are gearing up for business with the launch of a new platform aimed at delivering scalable corporate-level services to the network edge.
The Cisco Catalyst® 3750 Metro Series switch - launched this week alongside significant product enhancements to the Cisco 7600 Series, Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series and 4500 Series switches - means service providers can now meet the requirements of the most information-dependent of companies.
Metro Ethernet networks are used across the globe but have become particularly popular in Asia and Europe, where the compact, densely-populated nature of many cities makes them the ideal means for providing large numbers of high-speed broadband and VPN connections at low cost.
Such is the appeal of metro Ethernet in Europe, that it is increasingly seen by governments and companies as the way forward for delivering private and public sector services and boosting regional competitiveness.
This environment has helped spawn a new breed of service providers based on Ethernet that delivers voice, data and video at 20 times the speed of DSL - for voice-only prices.
These companies have no problems finding customers - but the nature of their offering and the characteristics of metro Ethernet technologies have meant they have mainly had to concentrate on home rather than business users.
The problem in cracking the business user base is that companies can be more demanding over what they pay for and what they get.
While a home user may be happy with a contract and some technical support, a business will want a binding service level agreement (SLA). Companies may specify a certain guaranteed bandwidth between branch offices, for example, or particular network availability at given times.
It has thus far been difficult for service providers to meet some of these enterprise demands using a metro Ethernet infrastructure. The Cisco Catalyst 3750 Metro series switch, however, is specifically designed to provide the kind of granularity and flexibility needed to cater for businesses at the edge of the metro access network.
It offers hierarchical QoS (quality of service) and traffic shaping, intelligent 802.1Q tunneling, VLAN mapping, Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and Ethernet over MPLS (EoMPLS) support, plus redundant AC or DC power.
These features - supported on two Enhanced Services ports - are not found on the traditional (non-Metro) Cisco Catalyst 3750 Series switch.
The upshot is that the new version will allow service providers to provide a much more highly-regulated metro access environment for business customers - and increase the efficiency and profitability of their networks - by making sure bandwidth allocation is more tightly controlled.
Service providers also can manage the Cisco Catalyst 3750 Metro Series switch via Cisco CNS 2100 Series Intelligence Engine support and SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) Version 2 and Version 3, plus there is a Telnet interface for comprehensive in-band management.
A CLI (command line interface)-based console provides detailed out-of-band control. The Cisco Catalyst 3750 Metro Series switch also has unique software feature license options that allow service providers to grow their service portfolios cost-effectively over time.
"Metro Ethernet already does a very good job for enterprises but this will help bring in more granularity and flexibility," says Bernard Lamy, product marketing manager for Cisco Systems in Europe, Middle East and Africa.
"To date, metro Ethernet switches have mainly been dedicated to providing services for residential or mixed residential and business groups of customers. The Cisco Catalyst 3750 Metro Series switch is really for small-to-medium businesses and larger enterprises.
"It is very much linked to SLAs, in terms of being able to specify fixed bit rates, define allowable extensions of bandwidth and so on."
The Cisco Catalyst 3750 Metro Series switch will be shipped starting in February, but it is already being tested by a number of European service providers, such as the Finnish company Elisa.
At the same time, Cisco is introducing a high-performance, 48-port Mixed-Media Gigabit Ethernet Module for the Cisco 7600 Series and Catalyst 6500 Series switch, with 48 mix-and-match small form-factor pluggable (SFP) optics to address a range of media types and distances.
New Cisco IOS software features on the Cisco 7600 Series and Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series switch help enable enhanced Layer 2 VPN service capabilities, giving service providers increased architectural flexibility when designing scalable metro networks.
Meanwhile, new 802.1Q tunneling capabilities on the Cisco Catalyst 4500 Series switch gives providers the opportunity to use a single VLAN to support customers' multiple internal VLANs.
This preserves original VLAN identifiers and segregates traffic from different customers, even when those customers use the same IDs, giving service providers a cost -effective high-density infrastructure option for delivering transparent LAN services.
"The Cisco Catalyst 3750 Metro Series switch and other related developments all demonstrate our commitment to the service provider market in Europe and elsewhere," says Lamy.
"We are giving them the tools to provide effective metro Ethernet services to large corporate customers such as banks and retail chains."
Jason Deign is a freelance journalist located in Barcelona, Spain.
Most Recent NewsCisco Completes Acquisition of Ubiquisys
The Network Week in Review and Look Ahead: May 20-24
Goldman Sachs and Cisco to Host Conference Call on Cisco's Cloud Computing Strategy