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An introduction to Ethernet services transported over a SDH network

As discussed in this paper, Nera has implemented the latest technologies that leverage existing network investments of a Service Providers network that meets tomorrows converged network demands. Ethernet traffic can be checked against Class of Service (CoS) parameters according to customers SLA's, and with this packet technology together with next generation SDH technology optimal transport of Ethernet and TDM traffic has become viable in legacy SDH networks for many years to come. With the importance and strong focus there is on operational and maintenance aspects for a service provider and the robustness of the SDH networks, Nera is convinced that Next Generation SDH will continue to play a major role. The Nera Metro Ethernet solution is providing in an integrated way necessary features that meet today the Service Providers future requirements depending on what infrastructure that the provider has available or plan to design.

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Seen from a network operator's point of view, an increasing demand for Ethernet/IP services has created a demand for more bandwidth or more efficient usage of existing bandwidth and the ability to build new revenue generating services and manage these services efficiently. SDH technology has been deployed in the backbone and in metro rings by most of the network operators through the 90's, and most of the traffic in the network at that time was voice or circuit switched /TDM (Time Division Multiplexed). This has dramatically changed and data has surpassed voice, and most of the data traffic is transported between end users with Ethernet as the user-network interface. An important consideration for the network providers is the divergence between TDM (circuit switched services) and data services (packet oriented) and the future expected convergence between these technologies. Designing a network today require, in most cases, an efficient integration of both technologies (TDM and Data). In the past, data networks and most MAN/WAN (Metropolitan/Wide Area Network) were based on locations interconnected by leased lines supplied by service provider using either ATM or Frame Relay transported by either PDH or SDH networks. Leased lines are costly, and they are inflexible with the amount of bandwidth available. The customer may have to choose between leased lines with too little bandwidth or a much more costly and far more bandwidth than needed, with nothing inbetween. The SDH as a transport mechanism is a well-proven technology that introduces small delays, has an efficient multiplexing scheme - fully standardised, protection mechanism, interoperable in a multi-vendor environment and strong on operation and maintenance features. With its ITU-T standardised interfaces, interconnection between metro- access network and backbone for transport over long distances is simple. But SDH as it was deployed in the 90's does not have any mechanism for sharing efficiently the packet oriented traffic in a dynamically way. As mentioned SDH was designed with focus on TDM (circuit switched) services, and for instance, 2 Mbps PABX lines to the PSTN network is straightforward.

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Ethernet over SDH (EoS) consists of a set of new industry standards that has been developed for more optimised mapping and control of Ethernet traffic over SDH. Collectively these new standards provide tools for a network operator to design networks enabling more efficient bandwidth usage through mechanism for prioritising traffic, sharing bandwidth, improved bandwidth granularity and last but not least easier service creation. All these features are integrated and embedded in hybrid Ethernet/SDH equipment solutions and application software packages that Nera can deliver today and with a clear migration path towards new services that will be offered as standards and harmonisations are achieved.

SDH Core Network STM-16 / DWDM

IP Backbone MPLS

PSTN Network

SDH Access Network STM-1 / STM-4

PABX Telephone

PABX Telephone



Firewall LAN Data storage









Figure 1 - Ethernet Services over SDH networks

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SDH enhancements - Next Generation SDH

Following important standards have emerged recently as important contributions for Ethernet encapsulation and transport over SDH networks: Generic Framing Procedure (GFP), ITU-T G.7041, provides a generic mechanism to adapt packet data (GFP-F used by Ethernet MAC frames or IP/PPP) or block-code oriented constant bit-rate streams (GFP-T for use in Fibre channels or ESCON/SBCON) signals over transport network. Link Capacity Adjustment scheme (LCAS) for virtual concatenated signals defined in ITU-T G.7042 that basically specify how link capacity adjustment schemes shall be implemented for increasing and decreasing the capacity of a container in the SDH network. Virtual Concatenation (VCAT) is an extension to G.707 for concatenation of low and high order VC's (VC-12, VC-3, VC-4). VCAT allows multiple individual SDH channels to be combined into a larger channel of appropriate size for a given payload. Only the end points, (sink and source) need to know the existence. GFP uses very simple encapsulation techniques that eliminates the need for termination of customer's Layer 2 frame and re-map it into PPP as required by POS (Packet over SONET/SDH, IETF RFC 2615). GFP is using a deterministic amount of bandwidth relative to the client signal bandwidth. According to SDH, the VC is defined at two levels, high-order and low order Virtual Containers (VC) and with a virtual concatenation scheme as fohllows; VC-n-Xv is the low-order virtual concatenation of X SDH VCs for n=12 and 3. VC-4-Xv is the high-order virtual concatenation for X SDH VC4. Low-order virtual concatenation allows creation of sub-rate WAN channels with an incremental size between 2 Mbps (VC12) and 34/45 Mbps (VC-3), and high order allow a concatenation of 140Mbps channels for users belonging to a Virtual Concatenation Group (VCG).

Nera NMS LCAS control LCAS Provisioning

LCAS Provisioning

SmartNode Source



SmartNode Sink

SDH transport plane

Figure 2 - LACS management plane

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A link is created with a source and a sink for a VCG (Virtual Concatenated Group) by using the NMS system. LCAS is used as a mechanism for adjusting the bandwidth of a VCAT channel by provisioning and control of the same termination elements. If a provisioning change is required, LCAS will adjust the capacity of the VCAT channel without interrupting the traffic. Thus, LCAS in combination with VCAT provide the customer with a tool to adjust the bandwidth as the customer requirements changes. VCAT functionality is only required at the path termination network elements and can work with older legacy equipment (not supporting LCAS&VCAT) in the intermediate network. Above enhancements and new features has made SDH more flexible, but SDH does not solve the need for packet data traffic handling. Prioritisation and load control must be solved before the traffic enters the SDH access network transportation mechanism, but before this switching mechanism is further discussed it is necessary to look at the IP and Ethernet services that currently are available and/or being standardised.

Metro Ethernet Forum technical specification and Service definitions

Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) are defining Ethernet and carrier class Ethernet services by specifying architecture, protocols and management for metro Ethernet transport networks. Nera as a metro-access-network solution vendor is adapting the MEF standards that have become widely accepted by service providers and other equipment vendors. MEF has as phase 1 defined 3 technical specifications, Ethernet Services Model (ESM) that defines service attributes, Ethernet Services Definitions (ESD) and Ethernet Traffic Management (ETM). An Ethernet service is defined by Service Type, Service Attributes and Service Attribute Parameters. Metro Ethernet forum has a basic model where they refers to definitions as Metro Ethernet Network (MEN) that can use different transport technologies, Customer Equipment (CE) that can be a router or IEEE802.1 bridge (switch) and the User to Network Interface (UNI) using a standard IEEE 802.3 Ethernet protocol (PHY and MAC layers) at 10Mbps, 100Mbps, 1Gbps or 10Gbps. One important rule in the work of MEF is that service frames shall be delivered with the Ethernet MAC addresses and frame contents unchanged. One key service attribute is the Ethernet Virtual Connection (EVC) that can be a point-to-point or multipoint-to-multipoint connection. EVC has two functions, i.e. connects two or more subscriber sites enabling transfer of Ethernet service frames between them and prevents data transfer between subscriber's sites that are not part of the same EVC.

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Two Ethernet Service types has been defined: Ethernet Line (E-line) Service Type - point-to-point service Ethernet LAN (E-LAN) Service Type - Multipoint service

Ethernet over SDH (EoS)


TDM TDM/ /SDH SDH SmartNode SmartNode


Figure 3 - E-Line service using point-to-point EVC

Ethernet over SDH (EoS)






SmartNode SmartNode

Figure 4 - E-LAN service using multipoint EVC

An Ethernet service must in addition to Service type also specify important characteristics for the UNI and EVC defined as service Attributes.

The MEF has defined the Bandwidth Profile service attributes for ingress bandwidth per UNI, per EVC and per CoS. The bandwidth profile consists of four traffic parameters; CIR (Committed Information Rate), CBS (Committed Burst Size), EIR (Excess Information Rate) and EBS (Excess Burst Size). MEF has also defined service frame colours based on the traffic conformance to the bandwidth profile that can be two or three colours depending on the configuration of the traffic parameters. A service frame is marked "green" if it is CIR/CBS-conformant, yellow if it is not CIR conformant but EIR and EBS conformant and red if it is neither CIR nor EIR conformant. The service provider will usually reserve capacity in the network according to CIR capacity.

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Service Performance
Service performance parameters specify availability and frame delay, jitter and loss. They are valid for delivery based on per CoS ID, that is 802.1p user priority per EVC or per UNI (port) with 1 CoS for all EVCs at the UNI. Performance parameters, i.e. Frame delay, Frame Jitter and Frame Loss parameters, are all parameters in the CoS Service attribute.

CE-VLAN ID and Class of Service Identifiers

Important MEF Ethernet service attribute that will be supported is CE-VLAN Tag. Service Frames at the UNI interface may have a tag that identifies the Customer Edge VLAN ID (CE-VLAN ID) and CE-VLAN CoS. The tag information is according to IEEE 802.1Q. A service provider may also add an additional TAG to the VLAN. This will isolate the customers Tag information.

Bundling and service multiplexing

The bundling mechanism enables two or more CE-VLAN ID's to be mapped to a single EVC at a UNI and Service Multiplexing is used to support multiple EVCs at one UNI.

Ethernet traffic priority mapping in Nera's solution

If the edge of a Access network is equipped with a hybrid Ethernet over SDH (EoS) SmartNode, the CE Ethernet traffic will first enter a policing module checking whether the traffic is CIR, EIR conformant and according to the SLA. Based on the CoS and whether there is congestion in the network Ethernet frames will be transported successfully or discarded. For instance if the traffic is conformant to CIR, the traffic will be prioritised above EIR conformant traffic in the network. When the EoS node is part of a ring structure, the Ethernet switch in the hybrid node also processes the Ethernet frames in the ring, and if the Ethernet traffic entering (ingress) the node creates congestion the switch will drop traffic in the ring with lower priority than the ingress traffic of the node. This is particularly important when building fibre-rings where the service provider's interest is to share the bandwidth between many users. The service provider has now got the necessary tools for obtaining a "shared packet over SDH" ring structure where he can match the ring transport capacity up to the sum of CIR conformant SLAs and allow a over-provisioning based on EIR. Traffic that is not CIR or EIR conformant will be transported based on "best effort".

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In the past Service Providers data networks used point-to-point leased line connections in WAN solutions, and leased lines were either based on Frame Relay or ATM. In this case the Customer Equipment (CE) required Layer 3 routing functionality for handling multiple connections. With new metro Ethernet services this can be slightly different. The CE is connected with only one logical connection to the Edge of Service Providers Access network, and the edge will switch the traffic into multiple point-to-point connections, thus, giving a multipoint network solution. CE does no longer strictly need costly Layer 3 functionality. For this multipoint services the operator need an Ethernet device at the edge of the network that supports necessary Layer 1 and 2 features for providing desired Ethernet services optionally together with legacy TDM services. Nera's SmartNode solutions positioned for Metro Networks are designed with a high degree of flexibility by standard and license enabled SW features together with pluggable HW modules. Features that has been implemented in Nera's platform and which are important for integrated EoS nodes in a Service provider metro Ethernet network can be summarised as follows; VLAN Tag Support (IEEE802.1ad and Q-in-Q). When a Customer Tagged Ethernet frame enters the network operator's edge device, an additional Tag is added to the Ethernet frame. As a result the network will maintain the integrity of the traffic and keep one customer's traffic separated from another's traffic. This is commonly known as Q-in-Q tag stacking which has been available for some time as proprietary solution. This feature will also improve significantly the scalability of Service Providers switched Ethernet infrastructure. Subscriber Spanning Tree tunnelling (EE802.1ad Provider Bridge) provides Customers Spanning Tree Protocol transport through the network giving Ethernet restoration isolation from the operator's protection mechanism. Policing functionality. Checks customer traffic priority, or CoS, and provide necessary provisioning based on this information. Rapid Spanning Tree (RSTP), IEEE802.1w, which is an improvement of SPT and a critical feature for large switched Ethernet network infrastructures. Multiple Spanning Tree (MSPT), IEEE802.1s, where a number of VLANs are mapped to a specific Spanning Tree instance. This will reduce the number of SPT instances, and will as an effect reduce overhead communication and bandwidth. This feature can also be used as a load balancing mechanism.

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Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP) is used by the Service Provider (SP) for aggregation of multiple ports into one logical port. This will enable the SP to offer higher bandwidth between switches in the network adding ports available on that switch with combinations of 10, 100 Mbps and 1 Gbps. Rate Limitations per traffic flow or per port is possible. Multicast Storm protection and Broadcast Storm protection feature prevents LAN ports to be flooded by this type of traffic on the physical interface. This mechanism checks over an interval if this type of traffic storm exceeds a certain percentage of the total traffic per traffic type. Generic Attribute Registration Protocol (GARP) is used by participants in the GARP group to exchange and register or deregister attribute values within the group. GARP VLAN Registration Protocol (GVRP) dynamically register VLAN membership information at the end points in the network and distribute this information by the use of GARP If the Layer 2 switches support IGMP snooping it monitors the traffic between the CE and the Layer 3 device and dynamically sets up filters accordingly GARP Multicast Registration Protocol (GMRP), which is a new standard, allows the switch and the end station to communicate directly, ensuring that the traffic reaches only the stations requiring this traffic.

Shared Packet Rings

The basic idea with a shared packet ring in a Service Providers Metro Access Network is that several users with both data and circuit switched traffic shall share the same capacity available in the ring. Normally the data traffic is larger than the circuit switched, and the data traffic is bursty by nature. The Service Provider will be able, by QoS and policing mechanism in Nera's solution, to handle an over provisioning of data traffic and at the same time guarantee committed data traffic rate. This is giving the customer most of the time an experienced data rate higher than the committed Service Level Agreement rate, and the network provider will benefit from a more optimal bandwidth usage and the ability to build more enhanced services. With SDH as a transport mechanism the TDM traffic will meet all ITU-T requirements, and with Nera's EoS technology carrier class Ethernet requirements can be obtained in shared packet rings.

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Ethernet carrier class and ring protection

Ethernet carrier class services need careful considerations when designing the network. Nera products support STP (Spanning Tree Protocol) and RSTP (Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol) features that provide a protection mechanism for Ethernet/IP traffic in the network. SPT has a restoration time of typically 60 seconds when a failure occurs in the network, and will not comply with the requirements of carrier class. With RSTP the restoration algorithm is different and a restoration time down to some hundred milliseconds can be obtained. For an Ethernet carrier class service this is not sufficient (shall be < 50 ms). This can be obtained by designing the network carefully using SHD protection mechanisms such as SNCP and MSP in the Nera EoS products.

RPR versus SDH

Resilient packet Ring (RPR) based networks are optimised to transport data traffic while SDH is optimised for transport of TDM traffic. RPR has better functionalities compared to IP routers and Ethernet switches for solving carrier class protection switching (<50 ms) and handling of jitter and latency sensitive traffic. The IEEE 802.17 Working Group is currently defining an industry standard for RPR Media Access Control (MAC). SDH is in principle using a second fibre in the ring for protection switching (i.e. SNCP) within 50 ms, while RPR is using both fibres in the ring for transport in both directions with an inner and outer topology. The inner ring control data for the inner ring data is transported on the outer ring in opposite direction, and vice versa for the outer ring control data and inner ring data. This is giving a much better utilisation of the fibre capacity in the ring.

Outer ring control

Inner ring data

Inner ring data

Outer ring data

Figure 5 - Resilient Packet Ring

6 69801-0201

If a fibre is cut in the ring, the traffic is automatically redirected within 50 ms. RPR deployed on dark fibre will be a cost efficient solution when all traffic is packet based, but native TDM traffic is not trivial to be transported and not so cost efficient as using legacy or next generation SDH technology. When available as a standardised solution, RPR can be used to replace SDH networks in

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the metro network. But there is a clear trend that proprietary RPR over SDH solutions available today is gaining widespread support among large carriers worldwide. RPR rings can use SDH for transparently transport of Ethernet/RPR frames. This allows carriers to use their current infrastructure to deliver legacy services and RPR for new data-optimized services. RPR over SDH will be available as an integrated technology in Nera's future solutions.

Network Management
As the service and technology development of today's converging networks increase in pace, the operational challenges of these networks grows. Service provisioning need to be automated to the extent it is possible and new service levels must be guaranteed through Service Level Agreements, across multiple services, multiple technologies and multiple networks. Nera's NMS platform is built on the New Generation OSS (NGOSS) initiative from TMForum and besides that it provides a comprehensive and full management solution for all Nera's leading edge network solutions, it also provides the basis for integration with 3rd party systems, thus, providing the necessary parameters for a Service Management platform. The Nera NMS is designed with a multi-tiered and components based architecture, providing a tremendous flexibility in functionality and integration. This is a prerequisite for short Time to Market for new functionality or integration, and ensures that the Nera management products keep up with the network technology development pace.

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ADM ATM DSLAM DXCE-LAN E-LINEESCON FE FICON GFP GE IAD IP LAN LCAS MPLSMSPP NGAN PDH POP RPR SDH SLA SONET TDM VPN WAN Add-drop Multiplexer Asynchronous Transfer Mode Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer Digital Cross connect Point-to-multipoint Ethernet connection. Leased line Ethernet. Point-to-point Ethernet connection Enterprise Systems Connection Fast Ethernet (100 Mb/s) Fibre Connection (storage interface) Generic Framing Procedure Gigabit Ethernet Integrated Access Device (Customer Premises) Internet Protocol Local Area Network Linear Capacity Adjustment Scheme Multi Protocol Label Switching Multi-Service Provisioning Platform Next Generation Access Network Plesiochronous Digital Hierarchy Point of Presence Resilient Packet rings Synchronous Digital Hierarchy Service Level Agreement Synchronous Optical Network Time Division Multiplexing Virtual Private Network Wide Area Network

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