Spirent touts Nortel carrier Ethernet certification

APRIL 15, 2008 By Meghan Fuller Hanna -- Spirent Communications has been selected by Nortel to receive its Carrier Ethernet Ecosystem Compatible Product Certification. The certification verifies that Spirent's TestCenter platform is compatible with Nortel's proprietary PBT technology.

APRIL 15, 2008 By Meghan Fuller Hanna -- Spirent Communications (search for Spirent) has been selected by Nortel (search for Nortel) to receive its Carrier Ethernet Ecosystem Compatible Product Certification, making it the first test equipment vendor to receive this endorsement. The certification verifies that Spirent's TestCenter platform is compatible with Provider Backbone Transport (search for PBT) technology.

The Nortel Innovation Center for Carrier Ethernet allows ecosystem partners to develop and pre-test services without requiring a live, in-service PBT network and to work towards a Compatible Product Certification to enable rapid deployment of PBT. Nortel's Carrier Ethernet Ecosystem also provides assurance of interoperability among vendors' equipment.

Because PBT is a proprietary implementation of Carrier Ethernet, interoperability testing and conformance verification is especially critical. "The industry looks for third-party people like Spirent to validate--from a non-vendor-specific point of view--that these architectures and technologies do scale to service provider requirements," explains Tim Jefferson, general manager of Spirent's Converged Core Network Solutions Division. "They rely on the test equipment to provide the scaling evaluation; they want to prove that performance is in alignment; and they want to be able to verify that SLAs and hard QoS pieces can be met. Because of the complex technology mix [required] to enable Carrier Ethernet, it's been a big, big challenge," he says.

Spirent made the strategic decision to "support everything," in Jefferson's words, "which includes the Ethernet OAM, the analysis, the data plane, the control plane. We picked up everything, including the Metro Ethernet Forum conformance [tests]," he says. "No matter what type of deployment or topology the service providers or NEMs [network equipment manufacturers] want to support, we have coverage for it."

Jefferson confirms that Empowered Networks, Spirent's exclusive partner in Canada, played an integral role in Spirent TestCenter's attainment of the compatibility certification. Empowered provided material inputs to evolve specific test cases for PBT trunk functionality and protection schemes, validating configuration management capabilities, 802.1ag Connectivity Fault Management (CFM) and ITU Y.1731 Ethernet OAM messages, and verifying performance, throughput, and QoS. 

While he says the Spirent is pleased to receive Nortel's Product Certification, Jefferson also stresses that Spirent aims to remain neutral. As such, the test vendor also supports the other flavor of Carrier Ethernet: IP/MPLS. "We have, conversely, done a lot of extra work on [IP/MPLS] too," he says. As a result, NEMs can use the Spirent TestCenter to test "not only PBT, but the MPLS-TE version as well--and to do interoperability testing between the two," reports Jefferson.

"We as a company are really focused on evolving our platform so we can further the adoption of these technologies and help the industry in general move forward," he adds. "By supporting both PBT and IP/MPLS, we allow service providers to decide which of these topologies fits them best."

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