Metrobility tackles Ethernet services with new edge device

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As this issue was going to press, Telco Systems announced its intention to acquire Metrobility Optical Systems. Prior to that announcement, Metrobility (www.metrobility.com) unveiled its RS960 Ethernet services provisioning platform, a multiport Ethernet demarcation device.

The RS960 is a response to carriers’ changing requirements. Carriers used to be in the business of selling lots of bits at a particular price and were therefore only looking to provide best-effort services. Metrobility calls this “managed transport.” Now carriers are looking to do what Metrobility has dubbed “multiservices networking.”Th 214994

Metrobility’s RS960 enables carriers to manage and provision multiple services from a single edge device-and isolate individual services for troubleshooting without disrupting other service offerings.

“It really now becomes a case where network convergence is beyond just converging T1s or Frame Relays onto Ethernet,” explains Alex Saunders, president and chief executive officer of Metrobility. “It really is voice over IP, data, video, and even wireless backhaul. Now, what [carriers] are really selling is networking services that have more quality-of-service, class-of-service, and SLA [service-level agreement] capability.”

To that end, Metrobility recently launched the RS960, a customer-located, six-port Ethernet demarcation device (EDD) that enables carriers to manage and provision multiple services from a single edge device, whether in-franchise or out-of-franchise. The device features four multispeed (10-/100-/1,000-Mbit/sec) customer-facing ports and dual uplinks to support failover, ring configurations, or link aggregation into the carrier’s network. In addition, the RS960 implements multiple MEF-defined Ethernet Virtual Connections (EVCs).

“Now what you can do is take traffic from access port one or customer one, and map it onto EVC A. Traffic from a different customer’s port could be mapped onto EVC B. By using these EVCs, customer traffic is kept separate inside the carriers’ network,” explains Manu Kaycee, Metrobility’s vice president of product strategy and management.

What the MEF does not specify is automatic failover between EVCs, prompting Metrobility to “innovate on top of the standards,” as Kaycee says. The company has taken the keep-alive protocols used in MPLS networks and modified them to work at Layer 2 across EVCs. “We have a primary EVC, which goes into the network, and we have a protected EVC setup,” he reports. “If the primary fails and we detect that from keep-alives, we automatically fail over. So not only do we provide interface redundancy and link redundancy, we also provide connection redundancy within Layer 2.”

The RS960 also includes embedded RFC 2544-based test heads that enable carriers to test and measure the performance of a single Ethernet service end-to-end without disrupting or affecting other services provided on the same connection.

The RS960 is part of a new initiative Metrobility has dubbed its AccessServices architecture, which provides a consistent feature set across the company’s product lines. “Now customers can use these devices at the edge and map into any existing standards-based metro network, be it Layer 2, Layer 3, Layer 2 VPNs [virtual private networks], Layer 3 VPNs, MPLS, or pseudowires,” adds Saunders. The new architecture also formalizes the company’s management capabilities, enabling customers to implement IP-based management or proxy-based IP-less management using IEEE 802.3ah.

For Michael Howard, principal analyst and cofounder of Infonetics Research (www.infonetics.com), the company’s management capabilities are a key differentiator. “Metrobility has a good range of products with hardware options but also with nice OAM&P software functions that are useful to carriers in this Ethernet access category,” he says.

Among Metrobility’s chief competitors are Ceterus Networks, Covaro Networks (recently acquired by ADVA), Axerra Networks, Overture Networks, and ANDA Networks as well as the copper-bonding companies.

When asked how Metrobility stacks up, Howard notes that none of the companies listed above are huge, but they are all growing. “They are all in the one-to-two-digit-millions-per-year category,” he notes. “All are aimed at the opportunity derived from the rising number of Ethernet service connections, and [Metrobility] is squarely competitive in this space.”

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