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Equinix to Introduce Carrier Neutral Ethernet Exchanges

October 6th, 2009 by · 1 Comment

It always seems like Ethernet is already everywhere, so it can be easy to forget that one network’s Ethernet services don’t generally talk directly to another’s.  Of course they *can* talk directly given an agreement between two networks, however having each network negotiate a separate agreement with every other network doesn’t scale at all.  To the rescue today comes Equinix (NASDAQ:EQIX, news, filings), which is planning a carrier neutral ethernet exchange.  Using gear from Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE:ALU, news, filings) they hope to act as a meeting point for carrier ethernet traffic, and by extension to bring standard interconnection to proprietary technologies.

The plans are just plans right now, there is no product yet.  But Equinix does seem to be well positioned to try to pull this off, and by announcing their intent they likely hope to generate some feedback from carriers.  The company’s flagship datacenters are home turf to almost all carriers one way or another, which reduces the hurdle each has to jump before trying it out.  This is one area where carriers just might welcome a neutral third party as an organizing force, because it is something each can only do piecemeal themselves.

That being said, we are probably a long while away from anything commercial here, and I’m not yet entirely clear on what sort of Ethernet services will find the greatest benefit from such an exchange.  Can anyone provide an example or two?

Categories: Datacenter · Internet Traffic · Telecom Equipment

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  • Frank Coluccio says:

    I can’t offer any examples quite the size and scope that Equinix is proposing, but metro-area ethernets (which is how MAE-East and MAE-West got their names, for example), were in use during the mid-Nineties. Of course, their names were mostly euphemistic, since WAN links were, in actuality, mostly SONET-based, i.e., OC3s, etc., and Ethernet was merely a derived service from those, but interchange did take place (as is the case today) at the Ethernet level, post mux & router stages. Although I should also note that there were some high-speed Ethernet pipes on the WAN side used, as well (albeit on metro, or very short routes), even back then, as shown in this drawing:

    http://www.indiainternet.in/images/datacenter/robust.jpe

    Don’t worry, Rob… I’m limiting my posts to only one link only until you say it’s okay to add more ;)

    frank@fttx.org

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