Over the past few years the term carrier grade has evolved from what was once a characteristic of the public switched telephone network (PSTN) to a new mandate for the Next Generation Network (NGN). The NGN provides many services beyond voice, many of which have reached the same mission-critical level, creating an unwritten expectation for an "always on," 100% uptime service-level agreement. Failure of any element within the network can cost millions of dollars and worse. Carrier grade attributes apply to the network and network element solutions, but they cannot be carrier grade unless their hardware and software subsystems implement the carrier grade features consistently across solutions. This is becoming increasingly more difficult to achieve because of the multivendor and multisupplier nature of the NGN, where the number of applications is increasing rapidly.