Enmax Envision adds routers to keep up with GigE demands

To increase its capacity to meet booming demand for high-speed metropolitan Ethernet services in Calgary, utility telco Enmax Envision is installing five T640 routers from Juniper Networks, Inc.

The project, slated to be complete by the end of this month, will allow Enmax Envision to offer 10-gigabit Ethernet services and quality-of-service features to support voice and video applications running over its city-wide network, said Erwin Kantwerg, general manager of Enmax Envision, the telecommunications arm of city-owned electrical utility Enmax Corp.

The move was also necessary to help Enmax keep up with a rapidly increasingly demand for its Gigabit Ethernet services, Kantwerg said. 

“Gigabit Ethernet has become very, very popular,” Kantwerg said. “It’s in high demand. As a result, with the existing equipment we had, we literally ran out of bandwidth in some parts of our network.” 

Calgary’s booming economy is driving demand for Enmax Envision’s services, said Kantwerg. Many of the company’s customers – who include most of the major oil and gas companies headquartered in the city – use its services to extend their office networks among multiple locations. “In Calgary we’ve seen such growth in the economy that it’s a major issue for companies just to house all their employees at one location,” Kantwerg said. So as large businesses spill over into overflow space, they are using Envision services to link those locations together.

According to Kantwerg, there is also growing interest in voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) services, but to implement those services, organizations need to be able to prioritize traffic so that voice quality remains up to scratch. Until now, Enmax Envision couldn’t provide those guarantees, but quality of service capabilities built into the Juniper T-series routers will allow it to do so.

Tim Lambie, vice-president Americas international at Juniper in Sunnyvale, Calif., said quality of service capabilities are a key selling point for his company’s T-series routers. Their ability to prioritize traffic allows carriers to support customer applications with different service requirements without segmenting the network into multiple virtual private networks per customer, he said.

While Lambie expects carriers will still create a separate virtual network for each customer, he said the T-series capabilities eliminate the need to create separate VPNs for each application in order to meet service requirements, thus avoiding “an infinite overlaying morass of complexity.” 

Kantwerg said the new routers will also help Enmax Envision meet an emerging demand for 10-gigabit Ethernet services. A handful of customers have inquired about such offerings, he said, and they appear quite serious about wanting the added speed. Kantwerg said businesses are making more use of not only VOIP but video, and these combined with e-mail and other routine network traffic are pushing the demand for network bandwidth to new heights. 

The company hopes to launch a 10-gigabit Ethernet service offering within about six months, Kantwerg said. Lambie said the T-series routers can support interfaces up to 40 gigabits per second. 

Enmax Envision has three of the new routers deployed now. Because the company has plenty of unused fibre in the ground and on utility poles, it is creating an entire parallel network using the new routers, said Kantwerg. Existing customers who don’t need the services the new routers make possible will remain on the old network and won’t be affected at all by the upgrades. Those who do need the new services will be switched over, probably experiencing service interruptions of around half an hour in the process.

Lambie said the T-series routers are aimed at telecommunications carriers. They offer 640-gigabit backplane capability and multiple routers can be hooked together to look like one router. A 2002 report from Boston-based research firm The Yankee Group said multi-chassis scalability is required to meet growing capacity demand in the core of the network. Among other operators using Juniper’s T-series routers are Microsoft Corp.’s MSN, Global Crossing and Korea Telecom.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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