Carrier Ethernet interoperability: so far, so good

Multi-vendor interoperability for Carrier Ethernet is off to an "assuring" start, and the EANTC (European Advanced Networking Test Center) has partnered with ten equipment vendors in Singapore to prove it.

EANTC is showcasing a live, end-to-end Carrier Ethernet network in Singapore at this week's Carrier Ethernet World APAC Congress in Singapore to demonstrate multi-vendor interoperability.

The vendors - Alcatel-Lucent, ECI Telecom, Ericsson, Harris Stratex Networks, Ixia, Juniper Networks, Nortel, Spirent Communications, Tejas Networks, and Tellabs - have created a large backbone, metro and access network stuffed into six equipment racks to demonstrate how the equipment works together and test various aspects of Carrier Ethernet, including OAM and, for the first time, E-NNI (external network-to-network interface).

The public test network replicates a two-week hot-staging interoperability event staged by EANTC and the vendors in Berlin in August to verify realistic multi-vendor test combinations in 20 different areas focusing on all aspects of end-to-end Carrier Ethernet networks.

The system also tests rival transport technologies PBB-TE and T-MPLS. The latter's successor, MPLS-TP, was not tested as the draft specs from the IETF were not ready when the test network was being planned. EANTC will implement MPLS-TP in future test networks starting in February 2009.

According to EANTC. the vendors participating in the test have verified that their Carrier Ethernet solutions support triple play, mobile backhaul and business services using Carrier Ethernet E-Line, E-LAN and E-Tree services.

The initial results of the tests have been generally positive, said Carsten Rossenhövel, managing director of research and manufacturer testing at EANTC.

"The level of interoperability for Ethernet OAM for the service link has been very assuring," he said.

He added that OAM performance monitoring, which underwent interoperability testing for the first time in the hot-staging event, also received good marks.

The major headache for the test network, Rossenhövel said, was E-NNI, which is still being standardized by the Metro Ethernet Forum, making interoperability difficult to test. EANTC subsequently tested several alternative options, including Provider Backbone Bridging, Q-in Q and MPLS Pseudowire Stitching.

Rossenhövel told that the public test - the first that EANTC has done in Asia - went well, despite using some different boxes from the ones used in the hot-staging event.

One potential problem with doing such tests is finding hotels with sufficient power to run six racks of gear. Rossenhövel said this turned out not to a problem at Singapore's Concorde Hotel, but that other hotels in Europe have sometimes asked EANTC to provide its own power generator.

"We've blown up a few hotel grids doing these demos," he joked.