MEF is enabling creation of a global ecosystem of communications networks to deliver on-demand services for the digital economy and hyper-connected world. These agile, assured, and orchestrated "Third Network" services provide a cloud-centric experience with user and application-directed control over network resources and service capabilities. They are delivered over automated, virtualized, and interconnected networks powered by LSO, SDN, and NFV. MEF produces service specifications, open LSO APIs, software-driven reference implementations, and certification programs. MEF’s work will enable automated delivery of wavelength, Carrier Ethernet, IP, SD-WAN, and Layer 4-7 services across multiple provider networks.
Shift To Agile, Assured & Orchestrated Services Is Gaining Steam
Three years after MEF launched its Third Network vision and strategy, the industry transition from static connectivity to agile, assured, and orchestrated services is well underway and picking up steam. Dozens of service providers currently offer or are planning to offer on-demand Carrier Ethernet services and NFV-based virtual services to help speed digital transformation of enterprises. SD-WAN managed services have stormed onto the scene and drawn attention to the benefits and potential market impact of new dynamic service capabilities.
While progress prior to 2017 primarily involved dynamic services offered over a single provider network, a tremendous amount of collaborative work has been going on this year to build out a global community of automated, virtualized, and interconnected networks that will support orchestration of on-demand services across multiple providers. This process will take a number of years but will have game-changing implications for service innovation, competition, revenue generation, and customer experience.
MEF Vision for Agile, Assured & Orchestrated Services
MEF Work & Industry Collaboration
MEF is working closely with many of the world’s leading service and technology providers, open source projects, and standards organizations to accelerate the creation of this global ecosystem, which will be enabled by standardized open LSO APIs that are used to orchestrate standardized services. For example, see the white paper - An Industry Initiative For Third Generation Network and Services (Nov 2016) – spearhead by MEF and co-authored by, OpenDaylight (ODL), the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV), TM Forum, and other organizations.
MEF’s current strategic work is focused on four major areas:
Third Network Orchestrated Services
MEF has expanded work beyond CE 2.0 (Carrier Ethernet 2.0) to drive the development of orchestrated wavelength, CE, IP, SD-WAN, and Layer 4 - 7 services (e.g., NFV-based virtual security). MEF has been working for more than a year on creating a standard set of attributes that can be used to define wavelength and managed IP services delivered over multiple interconnected provider networks. Standardized attributes consistent with those of globally adopted CE services will allow service providers to leverage MEF’s LSO work to deliver a full range of orchestrated Layer 1 – 3 services.
MEF also has extended its work to standardize SD-WAN managed services and recently published a white paper titled Understanding SD-WAN Managed Services. MEF is defining SD-WAN service terminology, components, and implementations in the context of the MEF LSO Reference Architecture & Framework. This work will ensure consistency of performance, policy, and security of SD-WAN services orchestrated across multiple provider networks.
LSO Framework, LSO APIs and SDKs
MEF introduced the LSO Framework in 2Q 2016 for the purpose of automating the entire service lifecycle for coordinated management and control across all network domains associated with delivering end-to-end services. The LSO Framework and open LSO APIs are the key enablers of the emerging global ecosystem of automated, virtualized, and interconnected networks.
More than 25 MEF member companies have been involved in advancing groundbreaking initiatives to standardize open LSO APIs for orchestrating services across multiple service providers and multiple technology domains. In July 2017, MEF completed major work on the first releases of two LSO API Software Development Kits (SDKs) associated with (1) the LSO Sonata interface reference point that deals with management, operational, and business interactions between service providers and (2) the LSO Presto interface reference point that deals with management of network infrastructure.
LSO Sonata APIs and SDK. AT&T, Orange, Colt, and 20+ other companies are working to create a complete suite of standardized inter-provider LSO Sonata APIs defined in MEF Interface Profile Specifications (IPS). MEF expects to publish the first two LSO Sonata IPSs for serviceability and ordering in the near future. In the meantime, the first release of the LSO Sonata SDK that includes serviceability and ordering APIs based on this definitions work is now available for experimental use by service providers and the market in general.
LSO Presto APIs and SDK. CenturyLink, Amartus, Ciena, Cisco, Ericsson, Huawei, NEC and others have been working to standardize LSO Presto APIs that support service orchestration functions like network resource provisioning and performance monitoring over various technology domains (e.g., Packet WAN, Optical Transport, SD-WAN, 5G, etc.). Leveraging collaborative input from the ONF, MEF expects to publish the LSO Presto NRP (Network Resource Provisioning) IPS in the near future. In the meantime, the first release of the LSO Presto SDK that includes the API for network resource provisioning for Packet WAN implementations is now available for experimental use by the market. The LSO Presto NRP API already is supported within an OpenDaylight SDN controller plug-in contributed into the UNI Manager project. Service providers can expect additional LSO Presto-enabled SDN controllers and proprietary NMS/EMS solutions to appear in the market in 2018.
“What we see today with this important strategic announcement from the MEF is that the whole industry is behind the Third Network and working in collaboration to develop end-to-end LSO as the enabler to make it happen. The transition to agile, assured, and orchestrated services for the hyper-connected world is now truly underway.
“Operators worldwide are actively integrating SDN and NFV into their networks in order to support advanced capabilities like dynamic Ethernet connectivity that are not possible to deliver using legacy service infrastructures. The MEF’s initiatives combining CE 2.0 as a foundation, LSO, plus Open Source provide operators with an essential standardized framework to help drive the industry transition towards more flexible network services.
Software-Driven Reference Implementations and MEFnet
As part of MEF’s agile standards development process, member companies are creating OpenLSO and OpenCS (Open Connectivity Services) reference implementations to maximize alignment of market implementations with MEF’s published and emerging LSO and connectivity services specifications. MEF has created a new compute, storage, networking platform called MEFnet that enables development, testing, integration, and showcasing of reference implementations based on both open source and commercial closed source products.
MEF also hosts LSO Hackathons at major MEF events that enable open source community developers, networking experts, and technology vendors co collaborate and develop solutions based on MEF work – both published and still in development.
Certification Programs for Services, Equipment, and Professionals
MEF is enhancing and expanding all of our popular certification programs to include new elements related to orchestrated services.
In May 2017, MEF introduced the Third Network Professional Certification Framework for creating a global ecosystem of certified professionals with leading-edge skills required to build automated, virtualized, and interconnected networks powered by LSO, SDN, NFV, and CE. This Framework – including a new Third Network Foundations Certification – builds upon our highly successful MEF Carrier Ethernet Certified Professionals (MEF-CECP) program, which now includes about 5,200 certified professionals from 440+ companies in 83 countries.
MEF currently is the process of transitioning to an “orchestrated services” certification program and aligning our technology certification program with that as well. Stay tuned for MEF certification news in 4Q 2017 that will have broad implications for service providers and technology vendors.