Everybody’s doing it: Ethernet is getting deployed on a large scale everywhere. I’ve had the chance to meet with NOC staff at several service providers recently, ranging from regional operators, to utilities, MSOs and multinational carriers. Whether for business services, wholesale Ethernet or wireless backhaul there’s a common focus: move from regional and one-off offerings to large-scale, full-footprint Ethernet deployments. We’re talking hundreds of endpoints instead of just a few, and it’s starting to take its toll on operations.
Invariably, the pain is the same for operators large and small – having moved far beyond testing and trusting the technology itself, the ability to rapidly scale Ethernet service offerings without excessive manual effort is front and center. Caution: what I’ve heard might make you choke on your coffee. We’re talking 40% success in services commissioning, mis-configured switches that merge management traffic with customer data, and full-fledged security breaches caused by mismatched VLANs. Oh, and the time Ethernet OAM went wild on an aggregation node, and took down hundreds of cell sites. And the New York, city-wide outage for a major operator, simply because standard operating procedures were overlooked.
I was sensing a trend (or maybe it was really hard to miss), so to get a bigger sampling I setup a survey on the EtherNEWS blog, and operators were quick to speak up.
Nearly 90% of respondents say Ethernet deployment automation is important or very important. Service providers are scrambling for a way to simplify the mechanics of getting E-Line and ELAN services up and running in a reliable, repeatable way. Over half say ensuring error free deployment is their biggest concern, followed closely by the need to configure QoS and validate that service performance is up to SLA specs. Interestingly, the cost and time required, and finding and training staff, rank as background issues. How can that be? I imagine it’s because if you get automation working, you can do much more with less staff, and training, cost and time drop out of the equation.
So quality and consistency is driving the need for a Plug & Play equivalent for Ethernet services – more accurately Plug & Go, or Plug & Run, since everyone’s tired of playing around with their Ethernet gear late into the overtime hours.
Are there any efforts emerging to standardize a quick, easy way to get Ethernet up? The closest parallel is probably the CableLabs DOCSIS cable modem self-registration standard, a key reason why cable operators were able to deploy home phone service and high-speed internet at the expense, largely with staff that had little experience with either. So is the MEF, the IETF or the IEEE up to something? Haven’t heard a whisper – but you can be sure that if the NOC folk have their say, they’ll be making a lot of noise very soon – just as soon as the fires are out and they see the light of day again.
Accedian Networks’ Plug & Go instant provisioning feature was inspired by theses needs in the NOC. Learn all about this amazing technology by watching this short video.