Ethernet is everywhere—even where you don’t necessarily see it. Just about anything that uses data relies on Ethernet somewhere on its journey to you. If you’ve bought or sold a data service recently, it’s very likely it was CE.

That is because Ethernet has displaced almost all legacy data transport technologies. CE is still growing and evolving, and has come a long way since it was first envisioned by the MEF in 2001.

CE relies on five key attributes:

  • Standards-based services result in predictable and repeatable use of CE. CE is built on IEEE standards to define physical details such as line rates, encodings, and packet sizes, and MEF standards that define the services and their attributes.

  • Scalability supports services for a large variety of uses (business, residential, mobile) over long distances that stretch beyond the LAN—at increasingly faster data rates.

  • Reliability means the network can detect and recover from failures and meet the most demanding availability requirements.

  • Quality of service enables a wide range of performance metrics required to fulfill Service-Level Agreements (SLAs), including applications such as voice, video, data, and mobile services.

  • Service management provides the capability to visualize the infrastructure, roll out services, diagnose problem areas, and carry out the day-to-day management of a network.

CE has evolved into a set of services that rely on a variety of technology elements to achieve these five attributes:

  • Encapsulation and transport: To transport an Ethernet service, a number of techniques can encapsulate Ethernet frames into various transport infrastructure types. This allows the Ethernet user data and headers to adapt to the specific infrastructure protocols. Once across the network infrastructure, the Ethernet frame is reconstituted and delivered to the destination in its native form.

  • Added resilience: Ethernet Protocol Data Units can be mapped as client frames and carried transparently. Then the underlying protection mechanisms can provide fast protection in the event of a failure.

  • OAM functions: OAM functionality is a hallmark of the legacy TDM-based services that CE has replaced in modern networks. As a result, Ethernet OAM is required for visibility into function and services performance. This is especially important because Ethernet services traversing the WAN can span hundreds to thousands of kilometers.

  • Quality of service: Hierarchies of service levels enable the delivery of appropriate resources for multiple services and applications. For example, a customer can differentiate voice, video, and HTTP traffic based on an application’s need for end-to- end delay or bandwidth capacity.

  • Scale: Technologies such as QinQ, PBB, hierarchical QoS, and connection-oriented Ethernet address most of the scalability challenges at the protocol level with robust and future-proof approaches.

CE is commonly employed in industries such as banking, healthcare, education, government, and military for high-capacity, high-performance application support. A growing number of operators are building on these CE connectivity services to provide enhanced managed services using Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) technologies.

Ciena’s Carrier Ethernet products include a portfolio of packet-based products that radically change the economics of Ethernet Business Service delivery by decreasing time to revenue. With a broad product line, common Service-Aware Operating System (SAOS), the OneControl Unified Management System, along with Blue Planet Orchestration software, enterprises and providers can simplify service deployment—and assure that the services are performing as required.