Ethernet is the ubiquitous protocol used in residential and enterprise networks and is
increasingly migrating into service provider networks. For example, IDC  predicts that
the global market for Ethernet Services will grow to $34 billion by 2013.
Some of that growth is a migration from legacy services such as Frame Relay, ATM,
and TDM, but it is also driven by service providers augmenting business and residential
data services with "triple play" multimedia services such as Voice-over-IP,
IPTV, and Video-on-Demand.
In addition, network economics have shifted sharply. Ethernet used to be low cost,
short range and relatively slow. But is now increasingly fast, dense and long range,
while still being very affordable - making 100GbE look very cost effective.
It is therefore not surprising that service providers are increasingly offering
Ethernet as the service, where users can connect to the network with an ubiquitous
and familiar RJ45 jack. To build such a Carrier Ethernet service, a service provider
must construct (at a minimum) two network layers.
- They must provide an Ethernet layer that runs transparently from customer
premise to customer premise. The Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) specifications enable
service providers to provide this layer in a standardized way. The MEF specifies
various topologies for the service including point-to-point (E-LINE) and multipoint
(E-LAN and E-TREE).
- They must implement a transport layer over which Ethernet is carried. This is
private to the service provider and is not standardized by the MEF, but it is an
essential component of providing a Carrier Ethernet service. It must carry the
Ethernet layer in such a way that the MEF specifications are honored.
IP/MPLS networks are an excellent solution to the transport layer requirement.
Ethernet traffic is transported as pseudowires using MPLS label switched paths (LSPs)
inside an outer MPLS "tunnel", with both point-to-point (Virtual Private
Wire Service - VPWS) and multipoint (Virtual Private LAN service - VPLS) services.
Similarly, non-Ethernet traffic (such as legacy Frame Relay or ATM) can also be
transported using pseudowires, using the same network, thereby allowing carriers
to serve multiple markets simultaneously. IP/MPLS networks are scalable and dynamic,
provide granular QoS, and can be traffic engineered to maximize use of carrier
infrastructure while maintaining customer SLAs. They can also be set up to provide
protection and fast failover, to give resiliency in the case of link or network failure.
Metaswitch has vast experience in supplying MPLS and IP Routing protocol software
products to communications equipment manufacturers, including a significant number
of the MEF's member companies, helping them build enterprise devices, edge devices
and core routers that help carriers deploy Carrier Ethernet services.
Features and Benefits
The Metaswitch solution for communications equipment manufacturers building mobile
backhaul devices offers the following features and benefits.
- Portable and scalable implementations of the MPLS and IP Routing standards
- Rich support for pseudowires, layer 2 and layer 3 VPNs, and Traffic Engineering
- Both static (managed) and dynamic (signaled) LSPs
- Full protection switching and fast restoration – delivering resilience within the network
- Built-in high availability and software upgrade – delivering resilience within a network element
- Deployed in many MEF-certified devices
- Engineering of the very highest quality.
The Metaswitch solution for communications equipment manufacturers building
Carrier Ethernet devices is based on the following elements.
- DC-MPLS – including DC-RSVP
- DC-IP Routing – including one or more of
- DC-MPLS and DC-IP Routing protocol support for (among others)
layer 2 and
layer 3 VPNs, traffic engineering,
end-to-end protection switching and fast restoration
- DC-OAM – including BFD and LSP Ping support
- N-BASE, Metaswitch's portable operating
environment for network software products
- High Availability Framework (HAF),
Metaswitch's architecture for delivering fault tolerance and reduced downtime across it
range of network software products
- Metaswitch engineering services, including
professional services, training, and support directly from the Metaswitch engineering
 IDC report, September, 2009