Networking pioneer Bob Metcalfe hails Ethernet-as-a-Service effort

The Metro Ethernet Forum this week announced intentions to define parameters for Ethernet network-as-a-service

The Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) this week announced intentions to define parameters for Ethernet network-as-a-service (NaaS), an effort Ethernet inventor Robert Metcalfe hailed as "a new network paradigm."

The so-called Third Network initiative builds on the Forum's Carrier Ethernet 2.0 specifications for service expansion, application oriented class-of-service, interconnect attributes and manageability. Third Network work includes service orchestration functions, APIs, a protocol independent NaaS information model and service definitions between physical and virtual service endpoints.

For enterprises, Third Network should result in faster, more reliable global Ethernet service delivery with connectivity that does not violate service-level agreements with carriers, MEF officials say. Today's private and virtual private networks based on CE 2.0 take days or months to initiate across network operator domains, according to the MEF, for which Metcalfe is an advisory director (he took part in a live streaming of the announcement on Wednesday).

And Internet connectivity may deliver ubiquitous on-demand service, but unreliable security and performance.

The Third Network will deliver business class network services on demand, across multi-carrier networks, initiated directly by end-users, cloud applications or service providers, the MEF says.

The Third Network will harness software-defined networking and network functions virtualization for flexibility, performance and automation through APIs to provide abstraction between technology layers. The MEF will combine these with its own NaaS APIs to improve Ethernet connectivity beyond that of CE 2.0.

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