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Bringing High Quality Carrier Ethernet Training to the Industry PDF Print E-mail

Craig Easley has spent almost a decade as the President and Dean of Academic Affairs of  the Carrier Ethernet Academy (CEA) - the leading MEF Accredited Training Provider (ATP). Craig has been a long-term contributor to MEF within the Technical, Marketing and Certification Committees, and has served ten terms on the MEF's Board of Directors, as well as Co-Chair of the Marketing and Professional Certification Committees. Speaking to Telecom Review, Craig opened up about the challenges and opportunities awaiting those who sign up for training at CEA.

What was behind the decision to establish the Carrier Ethernet Academy?
Realizing the opportunity to teach Carrier Ethernet from an insider's perspective.

The decision to found the CEA was to provide high quality, vendor-neutral Carrier Ethernet training to the industry. As a long-standing MEF participant and a 10-year member of its board of directors, I saw firsthand the gap between knowledge and expertise of those professionals actively involved in MEF, and those outside the core MEF membership. This knowledge gap was not being addressed by the informal education channels available at the time.

The MEF's core participants measure less than 200 individuals, but tens of thousands of telecom professionals from around the globe need detailed knowledge of Carrier Ethernet. The decision to found CEA and to focus exclusively on Carrier Ethernet education was to provide a solution to this industry thirst for knowledge that was not being provided elsewhere. CEA was in fact formed well before the MEF-CECP certification program.

As President and Dean of Academic Affairs at the Carrier Ethernet Academy, can you share some of your experience in the industry that led you to this position?
A passion for teaching, unique experience and a network of experts to build faculty.

I've been actively involved in both product development, as well as training and education throughout my career in telecom. Prior to working in a variety of product management roles at some of the leading Carrier Ethernet companies, I headed Network General's Sniffer University program. Sniffer U.-as it was called-was a technical training program that taught in-depth protocol analysis, which was a fundamental skill required for individuals using Network General's Sniffer network analyzer products.

As the head of the Sniffer U. training department I saw how much more productive the professionals attending the brief training courses were when they returned to their own networks, and used the Sniffer tools to monitor and troubleshoot problems on their own. I-as well as the rest of the CEA faculty-have a passion for teaching and helping professionals develop the skills and expertise that they can use to become more effective and productive in their work-lives.

How did you develop training material to help both vendors and service providers increase their understanding of Carrier Ethernet technologies?
Vendor-neutral Carrier Ethernet training works for both Technology Providers and Service Providers.

Our Carrier Ethernet training is 100% vendor-neutral so it translates well for both technology providers and telecom service providers. We teach the fundamentals which are taken from the core MEF documents. Since we don't provide any other training, our course material is focused on the MEF Technical Specifications and not diluted with material from other industry or product specific courses, like so many of the alternative courses.

The CEA Carrier Ethernet Boot Camp course is an integrated program combining lecture from some of the industry's most knowledgeable experts, quizzes designed to measure each student's mastery of the material, and practical exercises that require the student to put into practice the theory that they've learned in the lectures.

Tell us about your Carrier Ethernet Boot Camp Training: When and where do courses take place and who can participate?
We deliver Carrier Ethernet education globally non-stop! Literally!

Our Boot Camp training takes place year-round, and worldwide. 95% of our training is conducted as private onsite sessions, with public training sessions scheduled every two months or so, mainly in North America but we've held public classes in South Africa, Europe and Asia, as demand requires. To date, we've conducted onsite training for over 75 companies across 6 of the 7 continents for Service Providers, Equipment Vendors, Software Suppliers and other firms. Our alumni are typically sales engineers, network engineers and network operations folks, although we've had a multitude of other professionals attend our training, running the gamut from technical support to marketing executives.

What can you share about the MEF-CECP Effectiveness Benchmark Study?
It's the first independent study conducted to measure impact of Carrier Ethernet training and MEF-CECP certification on job performance, personal career achievement and company success in the Carrier Ethernet market.

Conducted by Vertical Systems Group and released in 2016, the study was based on survey responses from 330 MEF-CECPs representing 38 companies throughout the world, including service providers, equipment vendors, software suppliers and others. The Survey results showed that an overwhelming 87% of MEF-CECP respondents believe that their investment in certification has been extremely or significantly worthwhile, including both personally and for their companies.

Detailed results of the MEF-CECP Effectiveness Benchmark Study are available through Vertical Systems Group's ENS (Emerging Networks Service) Research Programs. For more information contact Erin Dunne, Director of Research Services at [email protected].

Why are Ethernet skills so important to learn, and how does the training/certification translate into job opportunities?
Carrier Ethernet expertise distinguishes MEF-CECPs from the rest of the industry work force, and their companies from the competition.

The CEA's training teaches students a common industry language so they may work more productively, and communicate more effectively, using precisely defined and worded MEF service definitions, as well as technical vocabulary which precisely define the functions, attributes and parameters for everything related to Carrier Ethernet.

This common language decreases the time it takes to sell and deploy Carrier Ethernet for Service Providers by reducing the back and forth brought on by inaccurate assumptions and miscommunication. For Equipment Vendors, the MEF-CECP program can accelerate product development time-by quarters or even years-by getting product management and engineering teams on the same page with respect to the details of required functions needed in the telecommunication devices they design, build and deliver.

Case in point: MEF-CECPs that participated in the previously mentioned Benchmark Study cited that without a doubt, training/certification led to a marked improvement-with an effectiveness rating of 9.0 (out of 10)-in helping improve the typical Carrier Ethernet sales process within their companies.

Please refer to figure 1 for the top 5 reasons cited by MEF-CECP study respondents.

Top reason why? Less technical miscommunication when interacting with customers.

Refer to figure 2 for additional benefits cited by MEF-CECP respondants as a result of their newly acquired Carrier Ethernet skills.

Do you provide training services for companies that want all of their staff to gain more skills?
As Ethernet services continue to grow, a broader population of professionals will need training.

Yes, absolutely! Our Carrier Ethernet Boot Camp is a fast-paced, rigorous course intended for telecom professionals that require MEF-CECP certification. This is our flagship course, but we do offer a variety of other Carrier Ethernet training that cater to employees at all levels of the organization. Our Carrier Ethernet Basic Training is a 1-day course designed for industry professionals-including executive, management and sales personnel-looking for a technical foundation to modern networking and Carrier Ethernet technologies. As an introduction course, it provides these folks with a clear understanding of the market, applications and opportunities for selling Carrier Ethernet Services. The course also provides a solid technical foundation for students that wish to follow with our Carrier Ethernet Boot Camp course in preparation for their MEF-CECP certification.

We also offer a 4-day course for Telecom industry professionals that do not require MEF certification, but stand to benefit from a comprehensive introduction to modern networking and Carrier Ethernet technologies. This course sets the base, then follows with a slower-paced deep-dive into MEF services definitions, interfaces, transport and access technologies, Service OAM, Circuit Emulation and the MEF's Carrier Ethernet certification programs.

What are the most challenging aspects of training at the Boot Camp?
The broad range of topics covered in the course that is required to prepare students to pass the MEF-CECP exam.

The biggest challenge of the Carrier Ethernet Boot Camp isn't that the information covered is particularly difficult to understand, rather it's that there's so much of it! The exam covers ten broad subject areas that are critical to working effectively in the Carrier Ethernet industry. The subjects covered in the MEF-CECP exam Blue Print cover a wide range of topics, some of which are core to the MEF technical work, while others are tangential.

Covering such a broad range of topics with the right focus has been the key to the success of CEA's training formula, and the reason that so many professionals have trained with us. Our instructors are first and foremost industry experts and secondarily skilled classroom facilitators.

They are capable of presenting Carrier Ethernet related technical material in sufficient depth to advance the knowledge of the experts attending a class. While at the same time, teaching students with less experience the base-line skills necessary to do their jobs more productively.

Can you share some of the advanced Carrier Ethernet concepts that trainees will familiarize with during their time at the Carrier Ethernet Boot Camp?
The course covers the 10 subjects on the MEF-CECP blueprint.

The MEF-CECP exam requires candidates to apply MEF specifications and Carrier Ethernet technical concepts from the following 10 subject areas. All these concepts are thoroughly covered in the training:

Carrier Ethernet Service Definitions
Transport Technologies
Access Technologies
Basic MEF Definitions
UNI & ENNI; EVC & OVC Service Attributes
MEF Certification Programs
Applications for Carrier Ethernet
Comparing Ethernet with other L2 and L3 Services
Circuit Emulation Service
Service OAM

What does the MEF-CECP examination involve?
A rigorous, but fair exam that puts candidates to the test.
Becoming an MEF-CECP requires passing a rigorous 80 question exam, covering a broad range of technical subjects and achieving a minimum score of 64% or higher.

Candidates are given 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete the exam which is given on-line, closed book with a monitor overseeing the candidate taking the exam.

Can you share some of your plans for the future?
Expand our training courses to provide Carrier Ethernet related education for an even broader population of telecom professionals.

We're working with our extensive list of service providers around the world to evolve and improve our course offerings. As you would expect our Carrier Ethernet courses are continuously enhanced and updated to reflect the on-going work of the MEF Technical Committee.

We're also meeting our client's requirements for broader Carrier Ethernet training for those less-technical professionals in business and operational roles who work with Carrier Ethernet, but who do not need the depth of technical skills that we normally address in our Boot Camp.

CEA faculty members remain actively involved in the MEF Certification Committee working to update the existing MEF-CECP exam and participating in the development of potential new certification programs by MEF. CEA will continue to provide educational leadership and expertise to the Carrier Ethernet industry as it continues to grow globally.

The Carrier Ethernet Academy is a MEF Accredited Training Provider, and an INDATEL Approved Supplier that cooperatively schedules classes with INDATEL and their member companies.

For more information on the Carrier Ethernet Academy and its courses, contact the company at: Tel: +1-855-633-2327, Email: [email protected], or visit the web site: