How you can finally fix the annual budget/bandwidth squeeze


The annual budget squeeze is coming soon to enterprises near and far. Meanwhile, cloud services, video and voice applications, and datacenter interconnect are all continuous drivers for bandwidth growth. In fact, there’s evidence to suggest that within just 10 years, networks may carry up to 100 times the amount of traffic they transmit today.

What can we do, then, to keep the metaphorical belt from bursting?

The conventional response has been to upgrade the existing IP architecture. This approach can cripple budgets and increases network complexity. Does your network actually need expensive router functions to deliver on today’s service demands? It’s time to consider an alternative solution.

Carrier Ethernet and The Cloud

Cost and efficiency requirements dictate that organizations examine alternatives that offer significant performance and expenditure advantages. Layer 2 (L2) Carrier Ethernet could be the answer, as it allows network administrators to leverage less costly functions for deterministic traffic, delaying the need to upgrade existing routers and reserving the use of expensive, complex routing functions for where they are actually needed.

Thanks to the increasing utilization of cloud-based applications, most user traffic today is going to one place in the network – the datacenter. This traffic requires fatter and fatter pipes that, while dynamic, don’t require a lot of routing in the classical sense.

Thus, while the traffic is most often based on an IP protocols, the way you deliver it is becoming more and more deterministic. A Carrier Ethernet solution, therefore, provides ample functionality to take control of your network and stay ahead of the swell.

Given the extensive use of Ethernet as a link-layer in most Local Area Networks (LANs), the use of Ethernet for both campus and Wide Area Network (WAN) environments has steadily gained attention. This is due in part to the fact that the L2-based infrastructure doesn’t preclude support of IP applications, but instead perfectly complements them while significantly simplifying the overall network.

To help provide additional context, here are five benefits enterprises can realize from the use of Carrier Ethernet:

  1. Simplicity
    The nature of the access and aggregation infrastructure of L2 technologies lends itself to more stable, longer-term connections that are intended to backhaul user traffic to an edge node (either a PE router or a datacenter handoff) where information is held and processed. The real purpose of the access/aggregation network, then, is to connect users to their desired content or application, while making the most efficient use of the expensive fiber plant.
  2. Network Performance
    L2 connectivity avoids unnecessary protocol conversions, making it ideally suited for a wide range of critical enterprise applications (i.e., latency-sensitive storage applications, financial trading programs, and critical infrastructure protection).
  3. Network Security & Control
    The connection-oriented Ethernet approach of L2 technology also ensures traffic is only delivered where it should be. For instance, enterprise network managers need not exchange routing table information with the operator. Instead, routed traffic is simply carried transparently over the L2 infrastructure so that operator routing complexity (and potential missteps or outages) does not affect the enterprise network.
  4. Flexible, Scalable Bandwidth
    The increasingly cloud-centric networking environment can benefit from sharing costs among a community of users. For example, SDN approaches have enabled scheduling of bandwidth on an as-needed basis for cost-sharing purposes.
  5. Ethernet OAM
    A number of standards-based OAM tools provide advanced means to monitor and manage the communication on Ethernet VPNs. While these tend to be carrier-driven features, network operators will also appreciate the level of visibility and control they provide in the enterprise environment.

A single, familiar Ethernet interface enables convergence of all enterprise services over a common network infrastructure, simplifying operations and taming the need to respond to escalating demands with additional complexity.

The equation is simple: low layer technology + simple hardware + fewer modalities of operation = lower cost.

This article originally appeared on the Ciena Insights blog.

The annual budget squeeze is coming soon to enterprises near and far.

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