Ethos Networks touts 'simple' packet transport
by Mehan Fuller Hanna
Israeli–based Ethos Networks (www.ethos–networks.com) was founded in 2004, several years before the concept of Provider Backbone Transport (PBT) was conceived. At the time, there were two options for building packet transport networks. One used IP/MPLS as the control plane to manage and convert packets into connection–oriented traffic with verifiable quality of service, and the other used LAN or enterprise–grade Ethernet with no service guarantees.
Adam Dunsky, co–founder of Ethos Networks, says that in the early days of the company, he and his colleagues asked themselves the following questions: "Can we do anything to make IP/MPLS more user friendly? Can we do anything to improve Ethernet?"
Given the relative maturity of IP/MPLS, the Ethos Networks founders determined there was little they could do to alter or change that technology, so they turned their attention to Ethernet. Describing himself and his fellow co–founders as "three guys arrogant enough" to develop an Ethernet device that "does everything an IP/MPLS box does but costs a fraction to buy and own," Dunsky and his cohorts set out to build what they claim is the first switch designed from the ground up as a Provider Backbone Bridging–Traffic Engineering (PBB–TE) Carrier Ethernet switch.
What sets Ethos's switch apart is its reliance on processes inherent inside the device to control the packets in lieu of protocols like TCP/IP and OSPF, which add complexity to IP/MPLS–based networks, Dunsky says.
"The philosophy behind our system is to have two elements," Dunsky explains. "One is to have a closed network, where the decisions are made by admission controlling the network only once, so only the switch at the entry point would make a decision regarding [which user has] precedence [when two users are competing for the same resource, for example]. Once we're in the network, we flow through it seamlessly," he says. "That's one element."
Ethos calls this functionality Dynamic Traffic Engineering (DynTE). Essentially, it's an end–to–end connection admission control (CAC) mechanism that adapts to traffic conditions in real time and provides "ATM–like" quality–of–service (QoS) capabilities.
"The other element is that the information is received by a big management system, which is a software server external to the network at the control plane, and not by protocols," Dunsky continues. "And since the decision is made only once, everything is much simpler. You can use Ethernet or you can use any number of connection–oriented technologies."
So when customers buy an Ethos product, they are actually buying two elements: the Domain Management System (DMS), or network management system that does the provisioning and resource management, and the actual Ethernet switch with integrated DynTE engine.
Joining the company's existing entry–level E–20 switch and its high–capacity E–240 switch is the recently released E–80, which provides 80 Gbits of full non–blocking switching capacity. It provides "five–nines" availability and supports all Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF)–defined service types, including E–Line, E–LAN, and E–Tree for multicast/broadcast distribution.
Targeted at triple–play service aggregation, business Ethernet service delivery, and mobile backhaul applications within Tier 2 and 3 networks, the E–80 is already in trials with two carriers and two vendors says Dunsky. Because Ethos is a relatively small company, its business model is two–fold—work directly with carriers but also with larger, incumbent OEMs. While he would not name names, Dunsky confirms the E–80 is currently in trials with "a company in the U.S., a company in the Far East, and a company in Europe."
Ethos believes its message will resonate with Tier 2 and 3 carriers because it provides advanced transport capabilities at palatable price points. "Ethernet over Ethernet is the simplest, most efficient means of service delivery," maintains Hayim Porat, CTO and co–founder of Ethos Networks. "And with the E–80, carriers can have full control over their network traffic while creating new revenue opportunities and enjoying high customer satisfaction rates. Ethos's newest solution does this by ensuring that all service assurances are strictly met with minimal resources, at every given moment, with full carrier–grade functionality."