ips - IP over SONET An Overview of Enabling Technologies...

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IP over SONET March 21, 1997 1 IP over SONET An Overview of Enabling Technologies Jason Leeson March 21, 1997 1.0 Introduction The Internet Protocol (IP) has been around for over 15 years and has provided a founda- tion for the evolution of the Internet from a global research network to a multi-billion dol- lar industry popularized by the World Wide Web (WWW) today. The exponential increase in the number of users and bandwidth demanding applications in the last few years, how- ever, is threatening to exceed the Internet’s capabilities. New multimedia applications incorporating voice, video and high speed data, for example, have emerged that require the transmission of large amounts of data in real time. This paper explores two possible alternatives to expanding the Internet’s capabilities. The first approach, explored in section 2, involves the use of Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM). A critical overview of the ATM solution is provided as a motivational basis for exploring the possibility of running IP directly over SONET. Section 3 provides an over- view of SONET, discusses the use of PPP for encapsulating IP packets into the SONET payload, and suggests the use of Cisco’s new Tag Switching protocol as a possible alterna- tive to the fast switching provided by ATM. Section 4 provides a brief diagrammatic sum- mary of the SONET Internet model. This paper questions why new and alternative architectures are required to deal with the Internet bandwidth problem as opposed to sim- ply scaling the speed of existing technologies. 2.0 The ATM Solution Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) has been hyped, by some, as being the technology that will provide the necessary bandwidth and service guarantees required by the new breed of multimedia applications emerging today. Many proponents of ATM have even labelled IP as a legacy protocol and assume that the Internet of the future will consist of ATM LANs connected to ATM WANs, with all serious users having direct ATM connec- tions into their workstations [Peterson96]. Clearly this has not happened and it has become obvious that it is not going to happen. This section provides an overview of ATM and its objectives and attempts to discern why IP has survived this apparent revolution. 2.1 ATM Objectives ATM was first defined by ITU for application in public networks. Viewed as the technique best suited to satisfy the requirements of integrated broadband networks, ATM has been internationally standardized as the basis for B-ISDN. With the emergence of multimedia at
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IP over SONET March 21, 1997 2 the desktop computer, however, it wasn’t long before computer system and LAN manu- facturers were looking to ATM as the networking technology that would provide the high bandwidth and low latency required by these real time applications. The ATM Forum, an organization including representatives of both the telecommunications and data communi- cations industries, was thus created, in October 1991, to promote and standardize ATM as the new end-to-end networking technology.
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