The Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) really is a good model for standardization bodies. The MEF brings service providers and equipment makers together to create standards for all facets of Carrier Ethernet as well as providing conformance testing and certification. Kevin Vachon, COO of the MEF, provided some interesting insights into the direction of the MEF and, therefore, the direction of Carrier Ethernet.The MEF defined three phases of the MEF life cycle. Phase 1 was about defining Carrier Ethernet and basic services required to offer Ethernet. Phase 2 defined and implemented the standards for Carrier Ethernet as well as conformance testing. The need for conformance testing is critical so service providers can be assured that products will be standards-compliant and interoperate. Conformance testing also assures you, the consumer of Carrier Ethernet, that your potential or selected provider can deliver on SLA for network capacity, quality, and uptime.
Carrier Ethernet is a WAN service that delivers Ethernet to your location. Ethernet is carried across the service provider network unchanged. Carrier Ethernet also provides higher capacity at a lower price point.
Phase 3 is the stage today where the MEF is working to develop a standard allowing providers to interoperate seamlessly while still providing class-of-service guarantees and management. Vachon expects work to be completed during 2009. Standardized class of service, capacity, technology, and operational management means you should be able to buy similar services anywhere in world regardless of underlying WAN technology. Based on the work of the MEF, whether your locations have fiber or copper to the building shouldn't matter. That's a big promise from a standards group, but based on past performance, the MEF will make good on its promises.
MEF global service directory is the MEF's stab to provide general information about what services are available in countries or in the United States. There isn't a lot of data available today, but the MEF expects the database to fill out. Of course, there's no guarantee that the information is current, but as it gets filled out, it might be a good starting point to research Carrier Ethernet options.