Ethernet - From LAN to WAN

Ethernet - From LAN to WAN

This blog will help us understand the journey of Ethernet from LAN to WAN.

From the time Ethernet was born several decades ago, it has proved its worth as a non-replaceable technology for LANs. It offers great features and yet it is very simple to use in our LANs. Due to its variety in offered speeds, simplicity, plug and play capability, multipoint connectivity, and low cost, it has been widely adopted and deployed.

Ethernet offers seamless integration and best granularity options compare to any other technology on this planet. It equally works well at higher speeds with automated provisioning. For enterprise IT staff, there is not much to learn about Ethernet since it is non-complex technology which is easier to troubleshoot. There are not many technologies which offer multipoint connectivity and Ethernet is not one of them. Whether it is a multipoint customer network or hub and spoke type setup, Ethernet can fit in all situations.

Ethernet is considered an economical option as by just adding ordinary layer two switches with higher port speeds, one can significantly increase LAN capacity. Full duplex interfaces have eliminated the issues which were previously attached to media contention and lower throughput. The introduction of virtual LAN has brought security, split broadcast segmentation, and logical grouping rather than physical into our LANs. Recent enhancement in Ethernet’s control plane has developed STP variants which offer faster convergence time and per VLAN based implementations. This resulted in improved Ethernet handling over physically large networks.

We also know that Ethernet is not media dependent and can run over wireless, copper or fiber using corresponding interfaces. Taking example of fiber alone, there are Ethernet standards which define use of separate fibers for transmit and receive traffic whereas other IEEE standard specifies use of single fiber for carrying Ethernet frames in both directions.

Unlike IP which rely on software based tools, Ethernet is tilted towards switching and therefore no complex routing protocols or metric calculations are involved. Ethernet frames don’t carry TTL values and as a result of which no decrement occurs at each hop. In other words, Ethernet frames don’t expire. In summary, Ethernet is non-complex and easier for Enterprise IT personnel to handle without requiring expensive learning budgets.

Ethernet is now an excellent choice for WAN connectivity as well. It is referred as “Carrier Ethernet” and offers five enhancements over regular Ethernet in order to qualify for WAN connectivity. These five attributes are:

-          - Quality of Service

-          - Reliability

-          - Scalability

-          - Standardized Services

-          - Service Management

These five attributes on top of a simple and easy to use technology like Ethernet makes it an excellent choice to use for WAN connectivity in metropolitan as well as in international backbone networks.