White Paper  5 myths about  Ethernet and VPNs  A white paper from Colt Technology Services  November 2010
5 myths about Ethernet and VPNsMyth 1: Ethernet is just                                     which naturalists in the 18th ...
network’s bandwidth capacity              Myth 3: If you have more                  stable latency which is ideal forwhich...
resilient and secure connections                         Myth 5: Ethernet Virtual                 Clifford Chance, one of ...
About ColtColt is Europe’s information delivery platform, enabling its customers to share, process and store their vital b...
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5 Myths about Ethernet and Virtual Private Networks


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Ethernet sounds complicated, and many technologists will tell you that it is a complex subject. We don’t believe it is. In fact, we believe it’s very simple. It was invented to bring simplicity to the problem of connecting computers together – and it succeeded. But various myths have developed about Ethernet and VPNs that confuse non-technical people and make them anxious. So get the truth and relax!

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5 Myths about Ethernet and Virtual Private Networks

  1. 1. White Paper 5 myths about Ethernet and VPNs A white paper from Colt Technology Services November 2010
  2. 2. 5 myths about Ethernet and VPNsMyth 1: Ethernet is just which naturalists in the 18th century to build WANs and is used to do believed was an invisible medium so by organisations of all shapesa simple plug for my through which light could travel. and sizes.PC, not a networkingsolution. Very quickly Ethernet became the As speeds grew in the 1980s and key technology in connecting not into the 1990s, going from 10MbpsEthernet is just as much a business only PCs but also servers, printers to 100Mbps in just ten years,technology as it is a domestic one. and other IT devices together organisations began to think aboutIn fact, it’s the most widely used enabling the creation of effective using Ethernet for their Wide Areatechnology of its kind in the and simple to manage Local Area Networks so they could overcomebusiness world. Why? Because Networks (LANs). And when the the bottlenecks that plagued WANsit’s so simple and effective. technology became a built-in fixture due to the fact that LANs offered all PCs and laptops it was obvious up to 100Mbps whilst WANsThe Ethernet connection was that Ethernet had conquered the typically only achieve 2Mbps. Theinvented to deliver simplicity. Back world. It had done so because it simplicity of Ethernet deliveredin the late 1960s Robert Metcalfe worked and delivered simplicity. advantages for the LAN becausewas working at the cutting-edge it was easy to set up and maintainof computing and trying to finish In the end, all the best and wasn’t expensive so it seemeda PhD at Harvard. He tried to technologies are the ones that logical to achieve the same benefitspersuade the college to link itself deliver simplicity, which in turn when it came to building WANs,up to the Arpanet, a nascent leads to lower costs and frees but many technical advisers toldnetwork of computers that would, users to concentrate on their work. clients that only SDH technologyeventually, become the Internet. If technology gets in your way, over Fibre could deliver the superiorHe told them he had a way of then it’s a bad. The beauty of resilience they were looking for.doing it really simply, but they Ethernet is that it is simple; it’s thelaughed at him and said they’d hire ultimate plug-and-play; everyone But once a company like COLTa specialist company to do it. They uses it (whether they realise it or began using Ethernet in 1996 todidn’t believe that joining this not) and Ethernet connections are offer Point-to-Point connections inrevolutionary new ‘web’ of everywhere. It’s a no brainer. Metropolitan areas over dedicatedcomputers could be simple. fibre, enterprises began to take the And in the corporate world, technology seriously. By 2002Metcalfe did. He left Harvard and Ethernet allows you to connect native Ethernet had becomewent to work at the famous Palo thousands of devices in a seamless, available, leveraging the SDH layerAlto Research Centre (PARC) and issue-free LAN. Any organisation, and in 2003 it was offered overfound himself, by 1972, surrounded however large or small they might copper for the lower speeds (upby desktop computers that needed be, can thrive in an online to 2Mbps) as well. In 2008 COLTa way to connect to each other and environment because of their deployed its native Ethernet next-swap information. “It was... a stroke Ethernet connections. The point generation network to deliver theof luck, being given the networking is to build on that ubiquity and same reliability that could bejob in a building full of personal simplicity to deliver business- achieved using SDH. Ethernetcomputers. This was a problem grade connectivity. became an accepted WANthat had never before occurred technology and more and morein the history of the world.”1 business began to replace leased Myth 2: Ethernet isn’t an lines to achieve the connectivityOn May 22 1972 Metcalfe, and his they needed. appropriate technologycolleague David Boggs coined theterm ‘Ethernet’ to describe the to connect different It also meant organisations couldsimple connection that enabled enterprise sites or offices benefit from the added granularitythose many computers to talk to that Ethernet offered. Simply, that – it’s just for the LAN. means they didn’t have to pay foreach other. The name was based onan outdated scientific belief that bandwidth that they didn’t use – It’s true that Ethernet started only what they needed. Until thathad been disproved almost 200 out being used to build LANs, point companies were sold on ayears before: the ‘luminiferous ether’ but it quickly evolved to be used 1 Quoted in ‘Ethernet – a name for the ages’; by Cade Metz: the register.co.uk 13 March 2009
  3. 3. network’s bandwidth capacity Myth 3: If you have more stable latency which is ideal forwhich, though impressive, wasn’t real-time applications (your dataactually required. Ethernet changed than a couple of sites travels speedily and securelyall that because it enables then you need to build without meeting obstacles on thecustomers to scale up from 2Mbps an IP-VPN. way). Security is, of course, vital;to 1Gbps in convenient increments traffic uses dedicated circuits that(which is what ‘granularity’ is) and Not true. You can use Ethernet are not shared with any Internetthen they could easily upgrade the VPNs to connect any number traffic at all.power of their connection. of sites – it’s flexible and able to cope with complex and Colt has designed their nextThose attributes have powered dispersed organisations and generation technology to be easilyEthernet’s rise from a LAN deliver the simplicity they need upgraded (at their end as well astechnology to a global WAN to operate seamlessly. yours). An Ethernet Private Networkenabler, and it now comes in a form delivers far more bang-for-the-known as ‘Carrier Ethernet’ which In the past technology specialists buck than an IP-VPN: make thedelivers speeds of up to 10Gbps have usually advised organisations most of LAN skills you alreadyand far beyond; speeds that are set which need to connect multiple have in-house, offer transparencyto increase much further. Large sites to build an IP-VPN (Internet to Layer 3 protocols, you canbusinesses and organisations Protocol – Virtual Private Network). easily achieve speeds up to 1Gbps;quickly decided that the simplicity They claim that it’s the only efficient and cost less per Mbps.and cost-effectiveness of Ethernet technology that allows for any-to-was made business sense, but any connectivity (where 2 sites Simplicity is the key point again;medium enterprises are only just can directly exchange data without it results in lower costs over thewaking up to the potential of using the need to transit via a third site). long-term (TCO). Companies thatCarrier Ethernet for their WANs They also claim that it takes a lot use an IP-VPN have to co-manageas well as their LANs. of investment to achieve a network their IP addressing layer with their that’s totally robust, secure service provider, which means theyWhat they’re realising is that the and responsive. have to agree who uses which IPmyth about Ethernet an address and also worry aboutexclusively LAN based solution is But, what they fail to mention is converting legacy applications andwrong. More and more people are that Carrier-grade Ethernet VPNs protocols that had only worked onacknowledging the fact that they can deliver all those things – and the LAN. That requires skills, takesdon’t need something complicated more. In fact, real Carrier-grade time and costs money.(and expensive) to create a WAN Ethernet offers the same levels ofand connect computers across robustness and quality of service An Ethernet VPN does away withsites, cities and nations. Indeed, that IP-VPN does only with more that process altogether. It enablesthey’re finding out that using flexibility and scalability. It also you to manage your network as ifEthernet for the WAN is much less delivers the same flexibility when it it were in just one single office, andcostly because there’s no need for comes to delivering cost-effectively support all your legacy protocols ascostly devices like routers to lower bandwidth sites using if your entire network was a LAN.convert protocols as data moves multiple copper pairs. It enablesfrom the LAN to the WAN. organisations to make the most of a VPN solution in a very simple Myth 4: Ethernet WANColt never believed that myth. way, and helps to cut costs andRight from the start of the services are only for future-proof the network.company’s operation in the City organisations withof London, they realised that the Again, it comes down the simplicity multiple sites.simplicity of Ethernet was a of Ethernet technology and itspowerful tool. It delivered the ubiquity. Colt-grade Ethernet is a Ethernet WAN services deliver therobust connectivity that a WAN powerful solution because it’s same benefits of lower costs andrequired, and made expanding it based on their wholly owned and simplicity whether you work in onevery easy at the same time. managed pan-European network place or many. that’s dedicated to business use.So, it’s clear that Ethernet is perfect You get uncontended bandwidth Many organisations believe thatfor the LAN and the WAN – it’s a (you’re not competing with Ethernet and Virtual Privatelocal and a global technology. domestic consumers over the Networks are for multi-site same pipes) that offers low and organisations. But the fact is robust,
  4. 4. resilient and secure connections Myth 5: Ethernet Virtual Clifford Chance, one of the world’sbetween an organisation and the leading law firms, decided tooutside world are vital in the 21st Private Networks are simplify their telecommunicationscentury. No business is an island in not as widely available strategy and save money at thethe 21st century. Companies need as IP-VPNs. same time. They went for a networkto interact and do business with that enabled hard-working lawyerssuppliers, peers, stakeholders and Not true. There are a lot of very to exchange data and documentscustomers. A fact made even more different types of organisations swiftly and securely in an intuitiveimportant by the move to ‘cloud who are making the most of way. Naturally, security and back-computing’ that’s sweeping Ethernet VPNs (EVPNs) to create up were vital issues – it is, after allthe world. a seamless flow of information a law firm – and Colt’s data centre across multiple sites and borders. capacity enabled Clifford ChanceIncreasingly, organisations are to work with confidence knowingoutsourcing their IT needs to IP-VPNs pre-dated Ethernet VPNs, that there were fail-safe measuresproviders who have the processing but that’s changed dramatically in place to protect data and keeppower and data storage capacity over the last few years. Many it available whatever might happenthey need. The economies of scale companies are now using Ethernet around the world.that large providers of those things to create their VPNs, some withcan achieve means that the costs of the help of Colt, which began the There are many more examples ofsoftware, processing, data storage move to Ethernet VPN solutions in organisations, all with very differentand manipulation have come 2004, and now offers organisations needs and numbers of officesdown dramatically. of all kinds the chance to build an (including those with just one), that EVPN quickly, simply and securely. have turned to Ethernet to achieveIt all happens in computers (banks their key business objectives.of servers or virtualised computers Spain’s ABBA Hotels decidedlinked together) that are far from that they would gain competitive Don’t let anyone tell you thatyour place of work (the cloud) but advantage by using state-of-the- Ethernet VPNs are not widelythat are connected to you remotely. art technology for reliable available: it’s everywhere. It justCloud Services are growing rapidly connectivity to a single centralised depends how you make the most ofand set to be worth of $100 billion secure data centre where all a technology that delivers simplicitya year by 20122 and that fact means services common to the hotels and seamless connectivity. Colt’sthat the kind of connection you are hosted. That would simplify business-grade Ethernet makeschoose is all the more vital. and enable the monitoring of all the most of its extensive wholly- communications processes owned and managed networkIt’s important to understand that efficiently. Ethernet was a key that is only used by businessthe ‘Cloud’ does not necessarily part of the solution and delivered organisations. In the end, that ismean using the public Internet – a 10Mbps fibre optic connection what delivers the power, securityfar from it. Companies with the to the Colt private cloud that and certainty you need. Ethernetneed for more privacy and security weaves the whole chain together opens it up for you so that you canthan others will choose a ‘private and ensures that their data (stored generate wealth.Cloud’ where they use an exclusive securely by Colt) is always available.connection to a data centre. This iswhere Colt-grade Ethernet plays a Intellectual property specialistskey role: you need not just security Marks & Clerk realised that theybut fast response rate (high speed, had to approach their growinglow latency and jitter). market as a unified entity despite the fact that they had a networkAs we’ve seen, Colt-grade Ethernet of offices in the UK, North Americadelivers the technical excellence and Europe. So, they created anyou need to connect your office(s) Ethernet VPN (using a Colt EPNto your servers and make the most product) that delivered up to 1Gbpsof the ‘Cloud’ – and, again, because speeds, uncontended bandwidth,you’re using business-grade internet and secure data exchange protectedyou’ll be able to think about by a robust back-up solution. Theoutsourcing vital functions so that company experienced a simple andyou can save on in-house costs in seamless migration to the newterms of hardware, manpower and network which enabled them tosoftware licences and so on. focus on their key objectives. 2 ‘Tech Firms Fight European Limits of Cloud Computing’, New York Times 20th September 2010.
  5. 5. About ColtColt is Europe’s information delivery platform, enabling its customers to share, process and store their vital business information. Colt provides majororganisations, midsize businesses and wholesale customers with a powerful resource that combines network and IT infrastructure with expertise in ITmanaged services, networking and communication solutions. Colt operates a 13-country, 25,000km network that includes metropolitan area networksin 34 major European cities with direct fibre connections into 16,000 buildings and 19 Colt data centres.For more information about Colt services for midsize business please visit www.colt.net/business or email inbound@colt.netColt Group S.A. is listed on the London Stock Exchange (COLT). Information about Colt and its services can be found at www.colt.net.© 2010 Colt Technology Services Group Limited. The Colt name and logos are trade marks. All rights reserved. E&OE.