Larry Birenbaum and Bernard Lamy on Taking the Metro Ethernet Edge to a New Level for Business Users
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January 20, 2004
This week sees one of the most important developments for metro Ethernet networking in recent years.
The launch of the Cisco Catalyst® 3750 Metro Series of fixed configuration switches brings greater intelligence and flexibility to the metro access edge, allowing service providers to cater for the exigencies of demanding business customers.
The unveiling of the Cisco Catalyst 3750 Metro Series - alongside product enhancements to the Cisco 7600 Series, Cisco Catalyst 6500, and Cisco Catalyst 4500 Series switches - is of special importance in Europe, where metro Ethernet is rapidly becoming the dominant network architecture in cities.
News@Cisco found out more from Larry Birenbaum, senior vice president of the Ethernet Access Group at Cisco, and Bernard Lamy, product marketing manager for Cisco in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).
What is the significance of these new products and related enhancements - and how will customers benefit?
Larry Birenbaum: The new products and enhancements enable service providers to deliver more differentiated metro Ethernet services such as Layer 2 and MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) VPNs, with service level agreements (SLAs), to their business customers.
They also offer additional architectural and technology flexibility for providers as they build service-driven metro networks. With flexible software options, the Cisco Catalyst 3750 Metro Series offers a cost-effective path for current and future metro business service needs.
A new module for the Cisco 7600 Series and Catalyst 6500 Series switch, with Cisco IOS® software features to enable enhanced Layer 2 VPN service capabilities, gives service providers greater flexibility when designing scalable metro networks.
New Cisco IOS 802.1Q tunneling capabilities on the Cisco Catalyst 4500 Series switch, meanwhile, offer a cost-effective, mid-density option for deploying Ethernet LAN services.
What is a service-driven metro network and why is it important for service providers to build such networks?
Larry Birenbaum: A service-driven metro network is one where the service provider carefully examines the breadth and depth of their current and future service portfolios before designing the infrastructure. It is important to think 'services first'.
In the past, service providers first built their network infrastructure based on a certain technology or set of point products and then considered what services could be deployed over that infrastructure.
This can be extremely limiting and can result in best-effort SLAs and service offerings. Providers are now examining their service offerings more carefully and are often finding that they need to build flexible architectures that use a range of technologies and intelligent features.
What growth are you seeing in metro Ethernet?
Larry Birenbaum: Due to the widespread availability, low cost and outstanding price-performance, many service providers are looking to offer Ethernet-based solutions to their traditional customers.
Metro Ethernet lowers total cost of ownership - both in terms of capital expenditure (CapEx) and operational expenditure (OpEx). And due to increasing volumes, Ethernet product prices have come down and speeds have significantly increased. Metro Ethernet is growing fast.
How have the service provider landscape and market drivers changed over the past 18-24 months?
Larry Birenbaum: The market drivers today are based on driving profitability for the service provider and productivity for the enterprise. Both CapEx optimization and OpEx savings must be realized much more quickly.
Service providers and enterprises are looking for solutions that reduce complexity and cost and improve upon traditional networks to boost efficiency, productivity and profitability.
What customers are currently using this new Cisco metro switching technology?
Bernard Lamy: The metro space continues to gain momentum and we are seeing new customers such as Elisa Networks, a service provider from Finland, which is among the first adopters of the new Catalyst 3750 Metro Series switch. A number of other EMEA service providers are also actively testing this new Metro technology.
What kind of impact do you think this technology will have on the metro Ethernet market?
Bernard Lamy: Although the new features we are announcing are relevant to service providers worldwide, they are likely to be of particular significance in EMEA because of the importance of metro Ethernet generally in this region.
The densely-populated nature of many urban areas in EMEA makes metro Ethernet well suited to provide next-generation broadband to a mix of residential and business users, including small and medium businesses (SMBs).
Besides helping them to simplify their own infrastructure and reducing internal communications costs, some governments in EMEA are coming to realize that bringing 10Mbps Ethernet connectivity to the SMB sector can be a first step in stimulating productivity - and therefore see metro Ethernet infrastructures as an opportunity to help improve regional competitiveness.
In order to make the most of the opportunities created by this environment, service providers need to be able to demonstrate the value of metro Ethernet connections to their customers - and these new product enhancements will help them do that, not only with regards the flexibility of services, but also in terms of scalability.
In short, we believe that these new Cisco technology features will allow service providers to fully exploit the metro Ethernet opportunity and will further help broadband networks live up to their social and commercial promise.