Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bandwidth Management Gets Easier With Ethernet

Bandwidth demand can be all over the map. It goes up, it comes down. It’s fine now but could go parabolic in 6 months to a year. Or not. How can an IT manager ensure that adequate resources are in place when needed without paying through the nose for idle resources?

Bandwdith management gets easier with Ethernet...Exacerbating this problem is the procurement and provisioning process that worked better in less volatile times. Typically a need is identified, a budget is created, approved and released, requests for quotes go out, vendors are narrowed down, a purchase order is cut, it winds its way through the carrier’s front office, eventually resulting in an installation, turn-up and the start of billing. If something happens and you need more, the whole process starts all over.

In a way, the whole system is tuned to match the technical characteristics of circuit switched line services. Take a T1 line, for instance. You order the line and you get 1.5 Mbps. No more, no less. If you only need 500 Kbps right now, the other 1000 Kbps goes to waste. You have to pay for the entire 1,500 Kbps because the day is coming soon when you’ll fill that pipe and you need to be ready.

The same is true for DS3, OC3, OC12, OC48 and other traditional telecom services. Moving from one of these to the other, up or down, is a major deal. DS3 is nothing like T1. If you need DS3, you’ll have a completely different demarcation connection from the carrier and you’ll need a completely different interface card for your edge router. It’s a major bandwidth jump, too. You’re moving from 1.5 Mbps up to 45 Mbps.

Not enough? The next jump is to OC3 SONET fiber at 155 Mbps. Once again, there is a long procurement and installation process with unique equipment for a particular service level. If you failed to order enough bandwidth, you’ll be dealing with network congestion for some time. If you way over-order, you’ll be paying a pretty price for a largely empty pipe.

Is there anything that can take some of the risk out of bandwidth management? You bet there is. It’s called Carrier Ethernet.

Carrier Ethernet services are fairly new compared to T-Carrier or SONET. They are available for metro, long haul and access networks. Carrier Ethernet is often touted as a technology that can link company LANs at two or more locations. It has an easy interface which is the same Ethernet connection used on your LAN, copper or fiber.

If that wasn’t enough, Carrier Ethernet costs are generally less than equivalent bandwidth levels for T-Carrier or SONET. It is not unusual to get twice the Mbps for the same money as you are currently paying for legacy telecom services. This cost savings is compelling, but may not even be THE important reason to embrace Ethernet in the MAN and WAN.

What Ethernet offers that other protocols don’t is easy scalability. Ethernet MAN and WAN networks are being designed for rapid remote management so that no truck rolls are needed when a customer wants more or less bandwidth. It’s all done at a computer screen so that you can pick up a phone can request a move from, say, 10 to 15 Mbps or 100 to 150 Mbps and you’ll have the extra resources available in as little as a few hours.

Carrier Ethernet is set up something like your LAN in that there are standard port speeds. You know that your switches, routers and PCs all have NICs (Network Interface Cards) with specs of 10 Mbps, 100 Mbps, 1000 Mbps or 10 Gbps. Usually, its some combination like 10/100/1000. The Ethernet port that you order installed will generally be 100 Mbps or 1000 Mbps, although it could be 10 Gbps if you really need that much. As long as you stay below the maximum capacity of the port, you can have just about any bandwidth level you want.

Very low bandwidths may have increments of 1 Mbps to 10 Mbps. Higher bandwidths might go up in jumps of 100 Mbps. Carrier Ethernet gives you a lot more choices so that you can more closely match the bandwidth you are paying for to the bandwidth you need. The ability to rapidly scale up that bandwidth means that you don’t have to order too much in anticipation of need. Get a port that will handle what you can reasonably expect to require but only order the bandwidth level you need to handle current business activity. If you suddenly enjoy a flood of customers or need to support a new video distribution, you can make that call and get the extra resources when you need them.

The result, clearly, is a major cost savings in not be over-provisioned for bandwidth plus less stress in worrying about what you have to do to be ready for tomorrow’s needs. Could your operation benefit from having this capability? If so, get prices, features and availability of Carrier Ethernet bandwidth services for your business locations.

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

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