How carriers are using standards to bring innovation to the enterprise

Behind the scenes with Allstream and the “elastic bandwidth” demo it conducted with Tata at GEN14

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The explosion of bandwidth usage and need for ubiquitous reach makes Ethernet services the preferred solution for enterprise networks.  As a result of that move towards Carrier Ethernet services, the global Carrier Ethernet services market expected to exceed $60 billion in 2018.

This significant growth in adoption of Ethernet services raises an important challenge, though. No single service provider is capable of providing end-to-end global services, driving service providers to establish inter-carrier connections to build ecosystems and partnerships with other carriers to increase their global presence.

In today’s world where all the inter-carrier interactions are based on proprietary interfaces, it takes from six months to two years to build and operationalize an interconnection between carriers. As you move up the stack, the complexity and the time to build these interconnections increase.

At the same time, to make any changes to an existing service delivered on multiple carrier networks will take up to two weeks and will involve multiple resources and systems in each service provider environment, making it very time-consuming and operationally resource-intensive. Manual processes have been a hurdle to introduce new services or to make changes on existing services, causing a very long time to market for new products and longer service delivery timelines for end users.

Ubiquitous access is a critical requirement to provide service continuity and predictable, assured, consistent service experience to the end users.

To address the ubiquitous access challenge for Carrier Ethernet services, Allstream took an innovative approach and has partnered with Tata Communications to demonstrate how standards-based interfaces could help to solve the interconnection problem between carriers by simplifying the interaction between carrier systems.

Allstream and Tata Communications participated in Metro Ethernet Forum’s GEN14 Innovation Showcase on Nov. 17-20, 2014 and successfully demonstrated how standards help to improve service development and delivery in multi-carrier service environments. Using the MEF 47 open standard that is developed by MEF members, we built an interconnection between Allstream and Tata network and systems, reducing interconnection time to two weeks. At the same time, service changes handled real-time while requests made through a user portal, reducing service delivery time to a couple of minutes.

In the proof-of-concept, an end-user requests an on-demand bandwidth upgrade on its point-to-point Ethernet service (EPL) in order to support its video streaming application from the cloud and places the bandwidth increase request on Tata’s user portal. The bandwidth change request triggers a series of automated interactions on Tata’s and Allstream’s networks and upgrades the bandwidth in five minutes. This makes it possible to stream HD video in an acceptable quality by orchestrating all the changes required in the network and systems.

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Given the strong adoption of cloud services, carrier network operators and service providers are required to adopt the change happening in how services delivered and consumed. In an environment where you could add and delete resources in the cloud based on dynamic business drivers, networks need to adapt to the same elasticity of resources for service continuity. The network is one of the most critical enablers of cloud, and its agility is vital to the paradigm shift happening in communication services. When these services are provided through multiple carrier networks, coordination between carriers makes it more and more resource-intensive to deliver and change services.

Standard protocols and data models make it easier to integrate and collaborate among multiple parties, setting the common language to communicate leaving enough time and resource for service innovation. While fueling innovation, standards also help to reduce the operational overhead, and Allstream and Tata successfully proved that for MEF GEN14 audience.

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