By Ken Mercer
When pitching corporate clients, VARs need to go beyond the same old technical differences, strengths, and limitations of MPLS and Ethernet services. Instead, focus on the operational and business advances that are tipping the scales in favor of the LAN-turned-WAN technology.
Opportunities abound for VARs and agents as carriers continue to light dark-fiber networks already in place. Carrier Ethernet represents a very viable alternative to MPLS, one that increasingly focuses on scalability, provisioning speed, and simplicity for on-network sites, be they main offices, branch locations, or data centers.
Jim Kleinsmith, national accounts director for Ciena, which provides networking gear to top cable companies and telcos, confirms that Carrier Ethernet is gaining market share on MPLS.
“Carrier Ethernet has the advantage of lower cost, lower latency, higher performance, easier scalability to 10 gigabits, more control over network routes, and better network management,” said Kleinsmith. “And then there’s connectivity through all service providers, data centers, and Ethernet exchanges. What else could you want?”
Many in the industry are under the mistaken impression that service providers lack the expertise and manpower to handle Ethernet delivery over fiber. The thinking is that cablecos focus on coax resources, and telcos do the same for copper technologies. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Comcast, AT&T, CenturyLink, and Verizon, for example, have dedicated fiber-savvy engineers and technology to Ethernet service deployment efforts for businesses.
And, when it comes to finding prospective customers for Ethernet over fiber, both cablecos and telcos are aggressively pushing these services, lighting dark-fiber facilities and selling to those already on lit networks. Channel partners need to get up to (Ethernet) speed.
When speaking with customers, stress these benefits:
With Ethernet, a switching approach, sites are given a fiber connection that’s something of a dumb pipe and that supports Ethernet service from the LAN to the WAN. MPLS, a routing-based approach, requires heavier-lifting routing work, and complexity consumes more resources.
By comparison, provisioning a T-1 could take up to 45 days. Also, with Carrier Ethernet over fiber links, neither channel bonding nor reconfiguration is required.
For VARs and agents pitching network services, the discussion must extend beyond revisiting the basic strengths and differences of MPLS versus Carrier Ethernet. Centering the discussion on business benefits and operational advances may help sell customers on Ethernet services offered by cablecos and telcos of all sizes.
Ken Mercer is TBI vice president and drives key initiatives and partnerships for the company.