The rapidly growing SD-WAN market is becoming increasingly important to the service provider members of the MEF, as well as to other market stakeholders such as large enterprises that use large scale SD-WAN solutions within their organizations.
The MEF is addressing the SD-WAN market by being the only industry organization to work on the definition of what an SD-WAN service is, and what are its key attributes. Beyond that, leading SD-WAN vendor members of the MEF are collaborating closely to implement SD-WAN solutions as part of the MEF 3.0 Implementation projects program so as to identify what standardization work can be used to support orchestration of SD-WANs, and their integration into the MEF 3.0 framework.
In 2017, the MEF published an industry White Paper "Understanding SD-WAN Managed Services" which provides standardized vendor-neutral terminology for components of SD-WAN managed services, as well as a high level definition of such services.
The MEF membership is now working on a specification to rigorously define both the attributes of an SD-WAN service as well as the SD-WAN service itself. This specifications work will provide the basis for streamlining orchestration of SD-WAN services, a necessity when integrating SD-WANs into very highly automated, heterogeneous data communications environments as described in the MEF 3.0 framework.
The most immediate challenge facing users of SD-WAN technologies is the lack of interoperability between SD-WAN controllers and edge devices of different vendors. Although service providers and enterprises might introduce only one SD-WAN vendor into their environments to begin with, they may end up using more than one SD-WAN vendor's solution through, for example, merger and acquisition of other companies, or due to the need to address a specific use case that cannot be handled effectively by their original SD-WAN vendor supplier.
The lack of interoperability between SD-WAN vendors makes management of multiple SD-WAN solutions complex and difficult to automate, adding to costs and ultimately impacting the customer experience negatively. Even where SD-WAN vendors agree to try and achieve interoperability, the number of SD-WAN solutions makes it a very large many-to-many development and test problem.
The MEF's work on LSO (Lifecycle Service Orchestration) and open LSO APIs are highly relevant to service providers and enterprises using SD-WAN technologies to deliver services.
By defining SD-WAN services and their attributes, the MEF membership is making SD-WANs orchestratable via APis at the seven LSO Reference Points including LSO Legato and LSO Presto. In this way, SD-WANs can be integrated into complex multi-technology domain environments using the same LSO-aligned OSS/BSS solutions deployed by service providers and enterprises.
In this way, the LSO framework and associated open LSO APIs can be used to create both Carrier Ethernet and IP services that connect between locations served by different SD-WAN vendor devices. This quickly and elegantly overcomes the problem of lack of interoperability between SD-WAN solutions from different vendors, and eliminates the need for costly and time consuming many-to-many interoperability testing.