My Carrier Ethernet background goes back a long way. First with early packet ring start-ups Dynarc and Native Networks (acquired by Alcatel). Then with Hatteras, Overture and for a good few years- Accedian Networks.
My relationship with Accedian was rekindled from the outside recently. SeeThru has been engaged in the roll out the first Ethernet peering point for a new residential ISP brand.
This ISP takes access network connectivity from one of the UKs leading fibre providers. Of course the layer 1 tech is G-PON but the Ethernet is Carrier Ethernet “lite” all the way.
First we integrated systems, then tested and now have live customers on the network. I found it interesting watching my colleagues get first hand operational experience of Ethernet Connectivity Fault Management (CFM). Particularly in how it enriches the cross organisational visibility of Ethernet circuits.
I was also reminded of how Carrier Ethernet and CFM in particular is a real mystery to battle hardened, experienced IP network professionals. So this article is for them — and maybe a reminder to folks like me. Here are my recently re-learned top 5 reasons to consider adding Ethernet CFM to your network monitoring/network diagnostic strategy.
1. You haven’t got IP endpoints to ping in all the places you need them
These networks are made up of Local Access, Regional and National Ethernet from multiple providers. These circuits are not leased lines with IPs to ping away at. Having Ethernet Maintenance association End Points (MEPs) at each interface allows verification of connectivity segment by segment. Concurrently and securely, by all cooperating partners and providers.
2. There are whole load of new logical interfaces to mis-configure
Through user network interface, network to network interfaces (access/distribution and distribution/core) and of course external network to network interfaces there are lots of places to get your tags, Ethertypes and PCP markings all set up properly. And plenty of time for long phone calls while everyone insists their side is set up properly. CFM — and dare I say it an “open” platform like SeeThru to share it on — helps get to the bottom of all of this really quickly.
3. Residential broadband customers have another box to turn off
There is a new box on your customers’ site and it needs both power and the RJ45 cable from your supplied router/their own router to be in the right port. Running Connectivity Check Messages across the Layer 2 network to the (forward thinking) wholesale carrier’s ONT will give you live status of this — and more.
4. Ethernet performance monitoring is built into your kit
Yep, “free” stuff is cool. From Cisco through Juniper and Nokia — these manufacturers, and others, have well developed CFM stacks in their software. Specialist Carrier Ethernet equipment providers like our partner/our friends at Accedian have bolt-on solutions with extra smarts as well.
With this rich toolset built in — it is well worth learning about and building a strategy to deploy the CFM toolset.
5. Automated diagnostics between wholesale network providers and their retail partners saves everyone time and money
I have used terms like “forward thinking”, “diagnostics” and “strategy” in this article. The approach by the standards bodies in this area (MEF, ITU, IEEE) with Y.1731 and 802.1ag has been consistent. That is to enable carriers and customers to collaborate on an Ethernet infrastructure. The tools were built to automate a collaborative approach to diagnostics, with information sharing intrinsic to the architectures and protocols. Even with a basic MEP configured for the ISP on the ONT, by their serving wholesale access network carrier, goes a long long way to reducing unnecessary phone calls between NOCs.
If you’d like to learn more about a CFM strategy for your organisation — or indeed something even closer to our hearts like automating a collective diagnostic environment — please feel free to get in touch. If transparency in service delivery is something that you share a belief in — that you also think saves everyone time and money — then we’d love to hear from you.