Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Metro Ethernet For Your Business

Business users looking to expand a company network beyond their own building or campus have had to dig in and sort out the relative merits of DSL, T1, DS3, SONET fiber, ISDN and other communications standards. Everything but the Ethernet standard they are so familiar with on the local area network. No more. Now more and more businesses are gaining access to Metro Ethernet and saving a bundle in the process.

Metropolitan Ethernet, also known as Metro Ethernet or MetroE, is a wide area networking protocol that extends your LAN right out the door and across town. As a network administrator or management service provider, you no longer need to worry about limited bandwidths, protocol conversions or getting the right customer premises equipment to support your communications needs. Your Ethernet service provider installs a standard RJ45 networking jack. You plug an Ethernet cable into it and connect to the switch or router at the edge of your network.

Switch? Yes, it's Ethernet. That means you can use Ethernet switch ports to include a branch office across town. You can also connect your router to gain broadband access to the Internet via your Metro Ethernet connection. Perhaps you just want to standardize on Ethernet as your single networking protocol to link to branch offices, warehouses, suppliers, vendors, or franchisees across the country.

Nationwide? Yes. Metro Ethernet is the city-wide service for what is called Carrier Ethernet. The "carrier" designation means that this is a communications protocol with the scalability and reliability to be used by common carriers. Some of these carriers are traditional telcos who are updating their telephone-centric networks to transport Ethernet as well. Many others are competitive carriers without the telco legacy that have developed all-new state of the art fiber optic networks nationwide.

What about the underlying communications protocols that transport Carrier Ethernet? The beauty of this technology is that it has been designed to work with a wide variety of existing networks. They include native Ethernet based networks, MPLS networks based on IP transport, WDM or Wavelength Division Multiplexing fiber optic networks, and TDM networks including T1, T3, and SONET OC3, OC12, OC48 that were originally intended for telco trunking.

As a user, you needn't worry about what's at the core of the wide area transport network. Your connection will be a standardized Ethernet signal. The standardization group is the MEF or Metro Ethernet Forum, a alliance of 120 organizations including service providers and equipment manufacturers. Their mission is to : "...accelerate the worldwide adoption of Carrier-class Ethernet networks and services."

A major benefit of this move to Ethernet in the MAN (Metropolitan Area Network) and WAN (Wide Area Network) is getting away from the traditional pricing structure that always involved telephone companies for the last mile access. Instead, competitive carriers operate their own POPs or Points of Presence that function as their Central Offices. You may be able to contract with a single provider for both local and long haul carrier services... at a huge price bread from what you might expect.

Ethernet services typically start at 10 Mbps, the same speed as standard Ethernet in the LAN. Most providers also offer 100 Mbps and 1000 Mbps or Gigabit Ethernet service to match your network requirements. No longer are you stuck cramming your data through a narrow pipe just to get it across town or across the country. Your costs per Mbps are likely to be anywhere from 20 to 50% what you'd pay for equivalent bandwidth using traditional TDM (Time Division Multiplexing) services.

Is Metro Ethernet the right network service for your company? Find out now if your building is already lit for Carrier Ethernet service or there is a carrier POP nearby. If so, you could soon be enjoying the benefits of Ethernet end-to-end.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

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