Enterprises Call On Carrier Ethernet

Storage services and data center growth will fuel interest in Ethernet, says Verizon exec

April 13, 2006

3 Min Read
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With telecom giant Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) cranking up its Carrier Ethernet message, enterprise users are now eyeing the technology to support their virtualization, consolidation, and storage replication efforts. (See Verizon Exec Leads Ethernet Class.)

Speaking at Light Reading's latest GLOBALCOMM 2006 Master Class Series event in New York yesterday, Michael Tighe, director of strategy and business development at Verizon, explained that data centers and storage services will add to demand for high-bandwidth, carrier-class Ethernet. "What if you had as much bandwidth on your WAN as on your LAN?" he asked.

Carrier Ethernet, which offers users the ability to connect different locations at speeds ranging from 10 Mbit/s to 1 Gbit/s, is touted as a more reliable and scaleable alternative to such private-line technologies as ATM. Ethernet, according to Tighe, can deliver up to 10 times the performance of more traditional technologies for only twice the price.

"You have a lot of bandwidth, so it's a great way to consolidate data centers," explained the exec. Users can also use the technology to replicate data across remote sites, removing their reliance on tape technology, he added. (See Time Warner Talks About Lost Tapes, The Year in Insecurity, and Tape Security Trips Up Users.)

Verizon already offers a range of carrier Ethernet services, which start at $1,000 a month, as well as Ficon and Fibre Channel interfaces, although Tighe could not say exactly how many enterprises are using these offerings.Nonetheless, users attending the event, which was hosted by Light Reading and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) , were eager to find out more about carrier Ethernet. "I would look at it," said Rudolf Rosefort, vice president of management information systems at the Empire State Development Corp., which is a Verizon customer. "It would make my life easier because there would be no [service] interruption if there is a dedicated line [to the storage]," he added, explaining that this could be particularly useful for replicating data across remote sites.

But the telecom giant needs to do a better job of getting its message across, according to Rosefort. "They are not doing a very good job of advertising it," he said. "Verizon already has a local loop, so it would be easier for them to deliver the service -- it's a natural progression."

Fulton Wilcox, senior partner at consulting firm Colts Neck Solutions, told Byte and Switch that a number of his enterprise clients are also examining Carrier Ethernet for replication. "If you get latency down to below a couple of hundred milliseconds, you can avoid traditional disaster recovery and pop a server in a remote site for asynchronous replication," he said.

Virtualization is another area that is driving enterprise interest in carrier Ethernet, according to the consultant: "Virtualization will drive different types of bandwidth requirements -- physical servers will need to be quickly reconfigured to support virtualization."

Wilcox explained that one of his enterprise clients looking to get into the content delivery business is also considering carrier Ethernet simply for its bandwidth story. "It's wonderful to know that there's this headroom," he said.But not everyone is bowled over by the storage possibilities for carrier Ethernet. Robert Ceralvo, owner of consulting firm IdealTech, told Byte and Switch that falling storage costs have removed the need for many users to access additional resources from remote sites. "Storage is very cheap to handle locally," he noted.

Stan Hubbard, senior analyst at Heavy Reading, said that, nonetheless, storage remains a great fit for carrier Ethernet. "Extending storage networks over Ethernet is one of the primary applications for this," he observed, adding that the likes of Sarbanes Oxley are forcing many firms to rethink how they share data. "There are greater bandwidth requirements in the enterprise space, and there are regulatory issues that enterprises are facing."

James Rogers, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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