Window on WANs

Jul 6 2011   5:05PM GMT

A reader responds: Metro Ethernet not all it’s cracked up to be

Jessica Scarpati Jessica Scarpati Profile: Jessica Scarpati

Our recent story on WAN pros who are adopting Metro Ethernet prompted one reader to chime in that Ethernet-based WAN services are not all sunshine and rainbows.

Janno Schouwenburg, a consultant for a service provider in the Netherlands, says he sees far too many enterprises get seduced by Ethernet services’ huge capacity boost and cost savings without fully considering the impact on the WAN and other IT services.

So, before you sign that contract, check out what he had to say (published with permission):

We have a high penetration of Metro Ethernet services next to other means of connectivity [in the Netherlands]. Yes, Metro Ethernet services are way cheaper than the old and almost legacy IP VPN MPLS networks. But there is also a reason for that: Metro Ethernet services are dumb, stupid and simple–for the provider.

Most customers don’t find out until a few months after migration that they got themselves into a lot of trouble. They need so much more knowledge than before, and most customers don’t have those kinds of resources or even see that they need [to learn more about the technology]. Most IP VPN customers used to outsource that knowledge to managed CPE services, and think they can do it themselves when the T1 is migrated to Ethernet.

First of all, they need the right equipment to connect to Ethernet VPNs because subrates of interfaces are very common–that is, a 300 Mbps line is not a 1 Gbps line, although it connects to a 1 Gbps interface.

Then there is no QoS or CoS. OK, if you are used to having 1.5 Mbps and now have 10 Mbps or even 100 Mbps, it seems perfect at first. But when you are [using it for] mission critical [applications] or the users just want a clean voice call, then you get into trouble. Then we all start moving servers around (consolidation, virtualization), trying to build redundancy, etc., and we are back where we came from: complexity. So, who’s gonna help the customer to get the IT infrastructure working again? I see this scenario now every week with our clients and I can only conclude: Networks are damned complex!

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