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 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:
- Understand your current wide area network characteristics and align them to potential increases (and decreases) in demand for network performance.
- Locate other organizations using Ethernet WANs and use any advice they might have.
- Calculate the business value of a switch to WAN Ethernet technology by evaluating both hard and soft costs.
- Locate network points where a migration to WAN Ethernet service can be justified.
- Evaluate WAN Ethernet service offerings from multiple carriers, and check their customer references to see how they fared.
- Review your findings with management to determine if a migration to WAN Ethernet can be justified.
- 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.
- Review and update the network topology to reflect changes based on the use of WAN Ethernet elements.
- Once the WAN Ethernet infrastructure has been approved, issue a request for proposal (RFP) to selected vendors and carriers.
- Build a project plan to migrate the existing network to Ethernet WAN technology.
- Find applications that can quickly benefit from Ethernet WAN technology and factor them into the project plan during testing and acceptance phases.
- Ensure that the project plan includes a detailed schedule of network migration activities.
- Prepare tests comparing previous WAN versus Ethernet WAN technologies, tests of overall network performance, protocol transparency, latency and other key performance metrics.
- Be sure to build disaster recovery into the network infrastructure and test failover capabilities as part of the acceptance testing process.
- Secure delivery of Ethernet WAN components (i.e., cabling, connectors, switches, routers, NICs) and test for proper operation.
- Install and test Ethernet WAN components for proper operation before cutover.
- 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.
- Document all installation and testing activities, including disaster failover and recovery plans.
- Complete acceptance testing.
- Launch WAN Ethernet service into production.
For more information, view these WAN Ethernet resources and case studies:
- MPLS and Ethernet WAN connectivity send frame relay and ATM packing
- With Ethernet exchanges, Ethernet WAN services available more places
- School district leaves legacy ATM network for Gigabit Ethernet WAN
Dig deeper on WAN network infrastructure