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Carrier Ethernet: Positively Certifiable

Ciena’s John Hawkins (@EtherJohn) is one of the industry’s foremost experts on Carrier Ethernet technology. He has held leadership positions for a variety of IEEE and MEF committees, and is currently overseeing the MEF’s work on Carrier Ethernet and the Cloud.


There are some things one must be a little bit crazy to do in life. Base jump.  Some water slides. Anything involving snakes… Yet there are those that say the thrills are worth it.

Certifying one’s Ethernet service portfolio against MEF CE 2.0 requirements might make some operators a bit squeamish as well. After all, the process involves a battery of hundreds of test cases carried out on the operators’ live network by an independent third party (in this case MEF’s  approved certification lab, Iometrix).  While the process might remind one of the old American Tourister commercials of days gone by, it actually leads to a more robust and reliable service offering on the part of operators that are willing to embrace the process.  The process is rigorous but ultimately rewarding.

As of today, some 45 providers large and small, global and regional, have achieved certification and can boast membership in this exclusive club. Most recently, we’ve heard from Vodafone NZ Wholesale who has added their E-Access service to the list and is the first MEF CE 2.0 certified service provider in New Zealand (we talked about the benefits of E-Access in a recent blog).

By certifying their service offerings, providers achieve several goals not the least of which is to demonstrate a serious commitment to offering standards-compliant services and willingness to prove it to a neutral party. This ensures end-users of the value they are getting for the service they are paying for. Regardless if the customer is an end-user, or (as in the case of Vodafone Wholesale) another operator, buying and selling certified services avoids a lot of complex one-on-one contractual negotiations that would otherwise be needed.

Increasingly, certification is being requested if not required in RFPs between operators. The advantages are considerable in terms of long-term expense avoidance (from all those “bespoke” or customized services) as well as a time-to-market perspective. Buyers and sellers can quickly identify the requirements using industry-accepted MEF service definitions and associated attributes, and thus get on with business quickly and efficiently.

One of the keys to achieving service-level certification is to work with systems providers who have achieved certifications for their gear using the same test procedures Iometrix uses at the service level. Though not a formal requirement, this greatly improves the efficiency of the work towards service level testing. Ciena has partnered with a number of our customers to assist in the process and maximize the value of the time spent in testing. Overall, the benefits are well worth the effort.

So are you positively certifiable?  An adventurous spirit helps, but at least no snakes are involved…

Original author: Gowan
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