Ethernet is a proven technology, and -- judging from its acceptance by the wide area network (WAN) community -- is likely to be a popular option for network professionals. Ethernet WANs provide a cost-effective, high-performance

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alternative to traditional WANs.

In my previous article, I discussed the some Ethernet advantages. If you decide to migrate to a WAN Ethernet infrastructure, use the same process as you would for any other critical network project. Use the following deployment tips when planning a transition to a WAN Ethernet service.

WAN Ethernet deployment tips:

  1. Understand your current wide area network characteristics and align them to potential increases (and decreases) in demand for network performance.
  2. Locate other organizations using Ethernet WANs and use any advice they might have.
  3. Calculate the business value of a switch to WAN Ethernet technology by evaluating both hard and soft costs.
  4. Locate network points where a migration to WAN Ethernet service can be justified.
  5. Evaluate WAN Ethernet service offerings from multiple carriers, and check their customer references to see how they fared.
  6. Review your findings with management to determine if a migration to WAN Ethernet can be justified.
  7. Find where WAN Ethernet service will give you the best short-term payoff; for example, you may be able to select a specific network route, like a high-speed link used for data backups, and identify quick improvements, like reduced time to complete backups.
  8. Review and update the network topology to reflect changes based on the use of WAN Ethernet elements.
  9. Once the WAN Ethernet infrastructure has been approved, issue a request for proposal (RFP) to selected vendors and carriers.
  10. Build a project plan to migrate the existing network to Ethernet WAN technology.
  11. Find applications that can quickly benefit from Ethernet WAN technology and factor them into the project plan during testing and acceptance phases.
  12. Ensure that the project plan includes a detailed schedule of network migration activities.
  13. Prepare tests comparing previous WAN versus Ethernet WAN technologies, tests of overall network performance, protocol transparency, latency and other key performance metrics.
  14. Be sure to build disaster recovery into the network infrastructure and test failover capabilities as part of the acceptance testing process.
  15. Secure delivery of Ethernet WAN components (i.e., cabling, connectors, switches, routers, NICs) and test for proper operation.
  16. Install and test Ethernet WAN components for proper operation before cutover.
  17. During cutover, test components to ensure they are working properly, and ensure there are no operational conflicts, no problems with protocols and security, and no problems with failover and recovery.
  18. Document all installation and testing activities, including disaster failover and recovery plans.
  19. Complete acceptance testing.
  20. Launch WAN Ethernet service into production.

For more information, view these WAN Ethernet resources and case studies:

 

This was first published in May 2012

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