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Metro Ethernet: Why all the confusion?

What is Metro Ethernet?

Metro Ethernet seems to be causing a bit of confusion. Businesses ask for it, but it always takes some questioning to see what they actually need it for, and often, people get the terminology mixed up. We see so much of this that we have decided to put pen to paper to dispel some of the myths about what Metro Ethernet is. We will outline what it really is, and also, what people and businesses are actually looking for when they ask for it!

So, what is Metro Ethernet?

The dictionary definition of Metro Ethernet is actually that it is a carrier grade network (i.e. something that the big telecoms providers, rather than many other businesses, will normally buy). Originating as a LAN (Large Area Network) technology, and it links multiple areas of the network together. These are often known as Metropolitan area Networks (MANs), or this is shortened to Metro Ethernet.

The networks link various things together, such as data centres with users, cell masts with the internet, or even residential premises with offices. Carriers can then sell private access to these services, which will guarantee things like bandwidth and traffic prioritisation. The larger operators (like Cell networks)  will still use this technology, but for a business looking to install something like VPLS? Well, technology has simply moved on.

So, how does that work for businesses? 

Businesses can buy access to the Metro Ethernet services and be ‘on net’ with their provider, allowing them to link multiple locations (via VPLS) to things like data centres or applications.However, due to  the way that technology is progressing, this is normally not the best way to deliver these services for companies. Data centres now have interconnects with just about everyone (and it is much cheaper to get these installed if they don’t), while multi-site companies are fast moving to using technology such as SD-WAN to connect multiple offices.  SD-WAN can be much cheaper as the service can be delivered over any connection such as Fiber Ethernet,Ethernet over Copper (EoC) or even DSL. Much fewer limitations on the routers you are able to use drives the cost down even further and there are a whole host of other functionality benefits as well. With that in mind, probably the biggest amount of enquires we get are just from people looking for a fiber ethernet connection ina metropolitan area!  

A new era

It’s a fact that companies are changing how they access their critical applications. Previously, a server room would have housed all of the business applications.  However, the world started changing about 10 years ago, and companies didn’t want to have to buy and maintain all of that costly infrastructure, so they started moving it to data centers instead. This allowed for shared processing power, an OPEX model. and better uptime. The majority of smaller businesses (and some larger ones) are now moving to SaaS applications, meaning they are outsourcing all of their maintenance requirements for things like their CRM, data processing and storage. Using SaaS instead of hosting the data themselves allows companies to have plain old internet facing connectivity, which massively reduces the complexity and maintenance requirements.

Whenever we are assessing the needs of a company we always try to consider what their requirements are now, but also, what and where they will be in the next few years.  

Myth busting Metro Ethernet

1.      Metroethernet doesn’t really just mean ethernet in a built-up area

2.      Big companies wanting wholly private connections may still want Metro Ethernet

3.      Businesses are normally looking for a reliable, high availability and high bandwidth internet connection. For this, either fiber to the cabinet (FttC) or Fiber tothe premises (FttP) is normally best. However, due to supplier limitations, companies often still have the last mile of the service into the premises delivered as Ethernetover Copper (EoC)

4.      SaaS is making many business owned networks redundant – is yours going to be? 

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