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We the People

The announcement of MEF 3.0 last week at the MEF17 event in Orlando was a great opportunity to look back, see what the MEF has achieved and to consider what we need to do to get MEF 3.0 adopted widely in the market.

It seems like aeons ago that Bob Metcalfe announced the launch of CE 2.0 on February 23 2012.

We’ve done a lot in the MEF in the 5 years since that industry milestone. For example, we bootstrapped the Service Operations Committee which went on to drive work on the standardization of operational aspects of Carrier Ethernet, like processes (MEF 50) and Ordering (MEF 57). These and related specs have in turn enabled the MEF to address operational aspects of delivering Carrier Ethernet services with its ground-breaking definitions work on Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO).

In turn, LSO leverages emerging SDN and NFV standardization to underpin MEF’s statement of its seminal Third Network Vision in 2014. This week is when that vision started being officially realized as MEF 3.0.Often, we start work in the MEF knowing that it is foundational but without knowing what is going to be built upon those foundations. It takes a leap of faith to start such things as committees and projects. Not only a leap of faith. It needs new people to join in to make that work a success. But if it's new work, then it's probably new expertise that's needed. How do we get that expertise into the MEF if the projects aren't yet started and there is no critical mass yet to 'attract' new participants?

Here's the rub. When I say “the MEF” and “we” over and over again, I mean the MEF members. More than that, I mean individuals representing their companies. It’s these individuals that spend time, often outside their day job, not only getting on calls but writing, editing and reviewing. Just as importantly, they are reporting to their management on what is going on in the MEF, why it is important for company to allocate resources, coaxing travel budgets and pushing for sponsorships at MEF events. That’s in addition to trying to find the right people in their organization to join new MEF projects that are not within their own scope of expertise or responsibility. The list of people that have done these things over the last 5 years since CE 2.0 was launched, and even more, since the founding of MEF in 2001 would be very long and hard to put together and so I'm not even going to try. I might leave out key names by accident and it would be tremendously unfair to leave anyone out of that historical narrative. However, that doesn't in any way detract from the industry-changing nature of their work.

The Service Operations Committee is a case in point of this bootstrapping challenge (by the way, it's the LSO Committee now) We needed people with expertise in serviceability, ordering, process, and other related operational areas. But the MEF back then - I don't mean decades ago, I mean 3 years ago... - was overwhelmingly driven by network architects, network engineers and networking standards people. We had only a few of the right people for this new area of operations-oriented standards work. The problem was compounded by the fact that often, the departments with the networking people don't know the people in the departments that do the operations stuff. And even when they do, they might well find it difficult explain what is required from them to make these new activities a success. This is almost always the case with our very large members - and we have some VERY large members in the MEF. Even smaller member companies don't always have the ability to capture the essence of this new skillset problem for their executive management that are able to reach across departmental boundaries to get things done.

So, I've decided that the launch of MEF 3.0 is a great opportunity to start blogging about this. Obviously, we in the MEF have succeeded in bootstrapping many times very new and radically different activities from our core Carrier Ethernet services work. We work on it with our members day in day out. But the challenge is getting ever greater as we touch more and more fields that we need to address in order to make MEF 3.0 meaningful. Modeling, policy, intent (business requirements), security, APIs, business applications, big data analytics, micro-services, software tooling and so on and so forth. So in each blog, I'm going to call out ongoing work for which we need new skills from our members (and future members) More than that, I'm going to call out those pioneers that are already pushing that work forward. The ones that have taken the leap of faith that this new work is important and foundational, and whose management have given them their backing.Watch this space. And remember. It's the people that make things happen in the MEF.

From Months to Minutes