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We have three remote offices (office A, B, and C), two (Office B and C) of them need to access the Linux file server and web application server in Office C. We also need to administer the network of the Office B and C from Office A, the network is comprised of servers, wireless routers and workstations. We also have a need to synchronize our database from Office B and C to the central database on Office A.

I am not really an expert on network technologies but our service provider offered Carrier Ethernet and Metro Ethernet to support our needs. Question is - which one is better for us in terms of scalability, reliability and quality of service?


We are thinking of getting a 20Mbps pipe and share the bandwidth to all three offices (if possible) and we basically control (by traffic shaping) the allowable bandwidth per network. I don't know if I explained this very well.

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It depends on the carrier by how they bill and provision, but since you have 3 locations, you're not going to really get "a pipe". You'll most likely have 100mb tails at each location, and again, depending on the carrier, different CIRs between the sites. – Aaron Sep 28 '11 at 14:54
This sounds like a question for your carrier. You need to know what kind of SLA they're offering, what their historic reliability looks like, and what underlying technology and media is being used. I'm not sure SF can help. – kce Sep 28 '11 at 16:11

Which carrier? Those are just marketing terms and don't actually have any intrinsic meaning. If I had to guess, one of them might be able to pass VLANs and one would not, but we'd need to see the spec sheets to be sure.

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I thought so myself, but I'll try to get some more detailed information from our service provider so you can see which is better. – jerichorivera Sep 28 '11 at 13:24

The way I understand it Carrier Ethernet is the same as Metro Ethernet, except that it can extended beyond the the city you are working within. It is mostly a matter of marketing - you should expect to pay more if your connection needs to leave your metropolitan area.

I connected together four sites with Metro Ethernet at my last place of employment. You really need to have a handle on your bandwidth, latency, etc requirements between your sites. One of my locations could likely have been handled with bonded T1s. That would have saved my company over $2000 a month.

EDIT - Based on your suggested requirement of 20 megabits per second I would suggest the use of one of the Ethernet solutions. We also looked into using either microwave wireless links or site to site T1s. In the end the tipping point was around 15 megabits a second if my memory serves - it was a few years ago. We did seriously consider the use use of the microwave links but it required line of site which was not available for all of our locations.

EDIT 2 - Also be aware that not all providers will cover all locations. I needed to mix and match Sprint and ATT service in order to cover all our locations. Doing so does produce significant cost overhead.

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thanks for your insight @timbrigham, i edited my question to include additional requirements for our network. – jerichorivera Sep 28 '11 at 13:42

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