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Network groups agree on common specs

Posted: 18 Dec 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:metro ethernet? multiprotocol label switching? multiprotocol label switching?

The Metro Ethernet Forum has established a formal liaison effort with the Multi-Protocol Label Switching Forum, or MPLS Forum, which will result in joint implementation agreements established by both coalitions. The pact is not necessarily a forerunner of the long-rumored "Layer 2 Forum," though representatives of both groups say that this bilateral effort could pave the way for broader work with a variety of other groups.

Nan Chen, president of the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF), said that members of his group realized that having optical Ethernet accepted as a metro-area public service required, at least in most cases, the use of MPLS as a common way of managing Internet Protocol flows. The work by the MEF and the MPLS Forum is so closely related, the two groups had been carrying out informal meetings for several months. The pact formalizes an existing relationship.

"In the near term, this will probably mean identifying liaisons to attend each others' meetings," Chen said. "In the future, combined meetings are a distinct possibility."

Common services

The pact comes after the MEF established a relationship with the International Telecommunication Union. In the future, the MEF and the MPLS Forum both could identify common services and interfaces, which could then be brought before official bodies such as the ITU, IEEE, and the Internet Engineering Task Force.

Since the MEF focuses on service definitions for carriers, two areas of collaboration have characterized the MEF/MPLS Forum relationship. In standard Ethernet service definitions, the groups have defined an Ethernet virtual private line service, with common committed information rate and peak information rate definitions, similar to frame relay, that give Ethernet circuit-like characteristics. For multipoint-to-multipoint operations, the two groups are defining a virtual private LAN service to allow carrier-provided virtual LANs based on Ethernet framing.

Another area of common work is in MPLS Fast-Reroute, which will give Layer 2 Ethernet service a resiliency and recovery period in the same 50ms time frame that characterizes Sonet physical-layer recovery. Chen said that compares with a typical 30s recovery time for spanning-tree implementations of Ethernet, allowing providers of equipment and service to legitimately claim "carrier-class Ethernet" for the first time.

The MEF and the MPLS Forum will work in 2003 on guaranteed-bandwidth methods and QoS mappings.

- EE Times

Loring Wirbel

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