Seeking Technical Input from Metro Ethernet Providers and MAN-like Enterprise Users

Good day,

As many of you know, I am a network engineer at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. We are currently in the preliminary planning stages of our next generation campus network and would like to get some ideas on what the "real world" is actively doing to focus in on the appropriate technologies and equipment.

Our campus consists of approximately 200 buildings over a few square miles as will as a fairly traditional hub-and-spoke fiber plant. Currently, we use Cisco ethernet equipment (primarily 6500s/Sup720 for core aggregation and routing, and 3750s for edge connectivity) and 802.1Q VLANS to provide per-department layer-2 connectivity. Each department gets their own VLAN(s) with some departments spanning throughout the campus to many buildings and some networks as small as a handful of ports. When our current buildout is completed we'll have about 4500 network elements and about 140,000 edge ports.

What we have been seeing with our current implementation is problems of scalability. 802.1Q simply seems to fall down when implemented wide-scale in a MAN/WAN environment (especially when using a redundant connectivity model). We want to look into newer MAN technologies (likely some variation on the MPLS theme).

What I am looking for are some engineering contacts at some ethernet metro-type providers as well as large enterprise and academic campus that have moved beyond 802.1Q for L2 VPNs. My hope is that you might be willing to be available for a brief conference call and/or to provide other insight as to how you handle very-large and scalable ethernet networks with a variety of service requirements. We've gotten a variety of information from our vendors, but we tend to take a lot of that as marketing and would much-prefer to discuss this with "real" people.

If you'd be willing to be of assistance, please drop me an email and I'll follow up privately.

Thanks much for your time.

Robert Hayden
Senior Network Engineer and Packet Wrangler
University of Wisconsin Madison

(CCed to NANOG and Cisco-NSP)