The Metro Ethernet Forum workshop last week in Philadelphia in conjunction with Cable-Tec Expo included talk of MEF certification, cell backhaul, overcoming technical hurdles – and case studies.

The case studies came from Time Warner Cable Senior Product Manager Darren Wolner and Optimum Lightpath Director of Product Development Glen Calafati. Both emphasized Ethernet’s ability to meet customer needs, while diverging in the content and style of their presentation.

Calafati itemized some eight examples in his presentation. Wolner pulled the equivalent of a teacher playing a videotape – in this case, an instructive, professionally produced video (also available at of the story of Time Warner’s work with the New York Law School. In re New York Law The case of Time Warner winning the New York Law School’s infrastructure business is not new – it appeared in the January 2007 issue of Communications Technology. But it is ongoing and compelling.

The original challenge in late 2006 involved major construction on campus; internal moves of the library, faculty and classrooms; increased high-speed data throughput requirements; and a relatively clueless IT strategy.

"They didn’t have an infrastructure plan," said John Southard, who stepped into the role of New York Law’s CIO originally on an interim basis, surprised at what he found.

Earning Southard’s enduring gratitude, Time Warner pulled off this transition in unprecedented short order, using technology that lowered the school’s per-bandwidth unit costs by a factor of about 20.

What’s interesting is that the story continues. "The next challenge is to leverage what we have," said Joseph Compagno, the schools’ director of strategic infrastructure development. "In higher education, it’s applications." Lightpath ‘SONET-izes’ Calafati’s eight, unnamed cases exemplify how Ethernet has continued to morph into a carrier-class technology.

"SONET-izing your Ethernet," Calafati said. "That’s really what’s happening."

The migration from best-effort to guaranteed service is far from a trivial transition. "The very big customers won’t settle for less," he said. "They’re going to ask you over and over again, ‘How reliable is this?’"

That’s especially the case with wireless backhaul, given that the "whole livelihood" of those service providers traverses these links. Besides backhaul, Calafati listed the following additional examples of Metro Ethernet’s applicability:

• Health care provider: campus and remote clinic connectivity; multiple disaster recovery sites
• Financial vertical: high-bandwidth, low-latency and multi-domain transport
• The "everything but the kitchen sink" customer: virtual termination, multipoint, private lines, management domain, etc.
• Enterprise: converged, secure and fully redundant networking
• Data centers: flexible, secure, multiple routes
• TV broadcaster: MetroE as the foundation for maintaining video integrity
• IP/SIP trunking: SS7 replacement

– Jonathan Tombes

Read more news and analysis on Communications Technology‘s Web site at

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