Why Metro Ethernet services matter to VARs

Selling Metro Ethernet services was once a play for telecom service providers, but now VARs are offering the technology to diversify WAN and disaster recovery options.

While selling Metro Ethernet services has generally been a play for telecom providers, VARs are more commonly adding the technology to their portfolios in order to increase options in WAN services, disaster recovery and even basic connectivity for SMBs.

Metro Ethernet WAN

Generally selling WAN services has been about implementing and managing MPLS, but now selling Metro Ethernet WAN services can offer a cost-effective, scalable alternative.

Adding Metro Ethernet WAN services to the mix doesn't mean displacing MPLS, but rather having another arrow in the quiver.

“Metro Ethernet and MPLS are complimentary,” says Steven Robb, a sales manager at telecom aster agent Intelisys. In fact, Metro Ethernet can run on top of MPLS to provide customers with a full mesh environment, he adds.

Combining MPLS and Metro Ethernet WAN is generally advantageous for businesses with a need to connect more than 100 regional, national or global offices and require multiple access options, including Metro Ethernet.

Metro Ethernet vs. T1

But at this stage in the game, the real opportunity for VARs in Metro Ethernet is reaching out to the SMB market. “With carriers taking Ethernet technology further out into the network, it’s virtually a plug and play option for businesses where Ethernet technology has been in use for more than 20 years,” says Edward O’Connor, vice president of network sales at telecom solutions provider Total Communications.

It's possible in these scenarios that Metro Ethernet will replace more traditional T1s and T3 circuits, which are common access technology used within the local metropolitan area. It could even replace the DSL that’s often used by small businesses.

With Metro Ethernet, VARs can offer these businesses a lower cost, familiar technology that’s easy to manage. Furthermore, most Metro Ethernet is delivered over fiber optic cable as opposed to T-1 connections that run over aging copper lines. Where Metro Ethernet over fiber isn’t available, using copper service for Metro Ethernet is an option; however, Metro Ethernet over copper is only available at lower bandwidths of up to 8Mbps.

What's more, from a cost perspective, Metro Ethernet is a fraction of the cost of a traditional T1 circuit – a 10Mbps Metro Ethernet circuit is about the same cost as a 1.5Mbps T1 line – and it scales easily in multiples of 1Mbsp, from 1Mbsp to 10Mbps, and 10Mbps increments from 10Mbps to 100Mbps, for example.

Available Metro Ethernet services

VARs can currently sell a number of Metro Ethernet services offered by communications players, such as Comcast Corp.

  • Ethernet Private Line Service: Point-to-point connectivity between two customer sites for bandwidth-intensive applications.
  • Ethernet Virtual Private Line Service: Point-to-multipoint connection that allows customers to tailor bandwidth, performance characteristics and cost to meet the needs of their applications.
  • Ethernet Network Service: Multipoint-to-multipoint connectivity to connect organizations with high-bandwidth requirements and multiple locations across the network, from 1Mbsp to 10Mbps
  • Ethernet Dedicated Internet Access Service: Continuous, high-bandwidth connectivity between customers’ LANs and the public internet.

In March 2011, Comcast launched a Solutions Provider Program to expand its customer base through VAR channels.

“Telecom agents are our primary channel, but now we’ve added a VAR channel, the trusted advisors that bring a roster of capability to their clients,” says Craig Schlagbaum, vice president of indirect channel sales, Comcast Business Services.

Metro Ethernet is expected to be a $40 billion worldwide revenue opportunity with $5 to $7 billion driven by the channel, domestically, he notes.

Selling Metro Ethernet: Managed services options

Selling Metro Ethernet alone isn’t where the channel will shine. “Managed services is the opportunity for the channel, when it comes to Metro Ethernet,” says Roopashree Honnachari, program manager Business Communication Services with Frost & Sullivan. Specifically, VARs will play a role in converging applications, such as voice, data and video on Metro Ethernet and then  managing the customer premise equipment, she adds.

Using Metro Ethernet for disaster recovery services

Metro Ethernet is also a great fit for disaster recovery and contingency planning, O’Connor points out. “Cable companies come in to this with the solution solved because they don’t use existing access point into the building,” he says.

At the core Total Communications business is performing audits for data centers that includes identifying and prioritizing a companies needs and vulnerabilities and making recommendations for disaster recovery/continuity; server/network environment; firewall/router perimeter security; wireless/internet security; virus and malware protection; management security awareness; and, patch and update management.

The VAR also offers 24x7-managed services or total care network monitoring and management.

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