SD-WAN

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Defining a Standard MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Service

The diagram below illustrates all of the definitive components that together help define a standard MEF 3.0 SD-WAN service. One of the key elements is the SD-WAN Edge, which is a function existing at the subscriber site, e.g. an enterprise customer premises, that connects the SD-WAN user-to-network interface (UNI) to the underlay connectivity service (UCS) UNI. This function applies policies to the IP packets entering the SD-WAN service, determining how they are classified into application flows and forwarded across the underlay connectivity services according to the policy configuration.

Much like MEF’s service standards for underlay connectivity, an SD-WAN service consists of SD-WAN end points, specifically SD-WAN Virtual Connection End Points that together form the SD-WAN Virtual Connection. These end points represent the demarcation between the responsibility of the SD-WAN service provider and the subscriber. As an overlay service, SD-WAN involves multiple underlay connectivity services. In the sample below, there are two such services, which can leverage either MEF 3.0 underlay connectivity services, like Carrier Ethernet or other services, for example, an Internet broadband service. Furthermore, a unique element of SD-WAN services is the ability to forward traffic directly to the Internet from an SD-WAN UNI, which is termed Internet Breakout.

SD-WAN Service Components

Components of an SD-WAN Service
SD-WAN User-to-Network Interface (UNI) SD-WAN Edge SD-WAN Virtual Connection (SWVC) Underlay Connectivity Service (UCS) Underlay Connectivity Service (UCS) UCS User-to-Network Interface (UNI) Tunnel Virtual Connection (TVC) SD-WAN Virtual Connection End Point (SWVC EP) SD-WAN Virtual Connection End Point (SWVC EP) SD-WAN Virtual Connection End Point (SWVC EP) Internet Breakout

SD-WAN User-to-Network Interface (UNI)

Demarcation between Service Provider and Subscriber responsibility.

SD-WAN Edge

Connects SD-WAN UNI to UCSs, maps packets to application flows, enforces policies, and selects TVC, over which to forward each flow.

SD-WAN Virtual Connection (SWVC)

Logical multipoint connection between the SD-WAN UNIs, which corresponds to the SD-WAN Service.

Underlay Connectivity Service (UCS)

Any WAN service used by the SD-WAN, e.g., MEF Ethernet Services (MEF 6.2), MEF IP Services (MEF 61.1), MPLS VPNs and Internet Access, and MEF Optical Transport Services (MEF 63).

Underlay Connectivity Service (UCS)

Any WAN service used by the SD-WAN, e.g., MEF Ethernet Services (MEF 6.2), MEF IP Services (MEF 61.1), MPLS VPNs and Internet Access, and MEF Optical Transport Services (MEF 63).

UCS User-to-Network Interface (UNI)

Demarcation between the service provider of the underlay connectivity service, and the subscriber responsibility.

Tunnel Virtual Connection (TVC)

Point-to-point paths across UCSs that compose an SD-WAN Service.

SD-WAN Virtual Connection End Point (SWVC EP)

Logical point where application-flow policies are assigned and applied.

SD-WAN Virtual Connection End Point (SWVC EP)

Logical point where application-flow policies are assigned and applied.

SD-WAN Virtual Connection End Point (SWVC EP)

Logical point where application-flow policies are assigned and applied.

Internet Breakout

Application flows forwarded from an SD-WAN UNI directly to the Internet rather than delivered to another SD-WAN UNI.

ASD-WAN User-to-Network Interface (SD-WAN UNI)
Demarcation between Service Provider and Subscriber responsibility.

BSD-WAN Edge
Connects SD-WAN UNI to UCSs, maps packets to application flows, enforces policies, and selects TVC, over which to forward each flow.

CSD-WAN Virtual Connection (SWVC)
Logical multipoint connection between the SD-WAN UNIs, which corresponds to the SD-WAN Service.

DUnderlay Connectivity Service (UCS)
Any WAN service used by the SD-WAN, e.g., MEF Ethernet Services (MEF 6.2), MEF IP Services (MEF 61.1), MPLS VPNs and Internet Access, and MEF Optical Transport Services (MEF 63).

EUCS User-to-Network Interface (UCS UNI)
Demarcation between the service provider of the underlay connectivity service, and the subscriber responsibility.

FSD-WAN Virtual Connection End Point (SWVC EP)
Logical point where application-flow policies are assigned and applied.

GTunnel Virtual Connection (TVC)
Point-to-point paths across UCSs that compose an SD-WAN Service.

HInternet Breakout
Application flows forwarded from an SD-WAN UNI directly to the Internet rather than delivered to another SD-WAN UNI.

MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Frequently Asked Questions

The SD-WAN market is one of the hottest in the communications industry, with tens of billions of dollars in revenue at stake throughout the next 5 years.

The following includes analyst estimates developed before the effect of COVID-19.

  • The global managed SD-WAN services market is expected to reach nearly $6.4 billion by 2023 (CAGR of 42% during 2018-2023), according to Frost & Sullivan.
  • The US managed SD-WAN services market alone is projected to be $4.5 billion by 2023 (CAGR of 74% during 2018-2023), according to Vertical Systems Group.
  • IDC estimates that the global SD-WAN infrastructure market (excluding managed services) will reach $5.3 billion by 2023 due to strong enterprise demand and the embrace of SD-WAN by leading service providers seeking to provide enterprises with dynamic management of hybrid WAN connections with guaranteed QoS on a per-application basis.

Although the pandemic has negatively impacted the SD-WAN service and technology markets in 2020, leading analysts have expressed optimism about a return to strong market growth as economies recover.

  • Following triple-digit revenue in 2019 for the US managed SD-WAN services market, Vertical Systems Group now expects sales to “slump” to 17% in 2020 but rebound to higher growth in 2021.
  • Futuriom expects the SD-WAN tools and software market to accelerate to a growth rate of 34% CAGR, reaching $2.0 billion in 2020, $2.85 billion in 2021, and $4.6 billion by 2023. The firm expects acceleration will be spurred by demand for more agile, high-performance, and secure connections to cloud applications.

MEF is the world’s leading communications industry organization shaping the direction and growth of the SD-WAN services market through standardization and certification of services, technologies, and professionals.

In July 2019, MEF published the industry’s first global standard defining an SD-WAN service and its service attributes to help accelerate SD-WAN market growth and enable creation of powerful new hybrid networking solutions optimized for digital transformation.

SD-WAN service standardization has been conducted within the context of the MEF 3.0 Global Services Framework. It is part of a transformational initiative to define, deliver, and certify a family of dynamic Carrier Ethernet (CE), Optical Transport, IP, SD-WAN, SD-security, and SASE services orchestrated across automated networks using LSO APIs.

Combining standardized SD-WAN services with dynamic high-speed underlay connectivity services will enable service providers to offer MEF 3.0 hybrid networking solutions with unprecedented user- and application-directed control over network resources and service capabilities.

SD-WAN is the way to interface policy with an intelligent software defined network. Standardization makes it easier for integration to work across multiple types of underlying transport services. In the end, the combination of standardized and orchestrated overlay and underlay services will provide a better customer experience with improved service capabilities and guaranteed resiliency.

MEF’s SD-WAN Service Attributes and Services (MEF 70) standard describes requirements for an application-aware, over-the-top WAN connectivity service that uses policies to determine how application flows are directed over multiple underlay networks irrespective of the underlay technologies or service providers who deliver them.

MEF 70, among other things, defines:

  • Service attributes that describe the externally visible behavior of an SD-WAN service as experienced by the subscriber.
  • Traffic handling rules.
  • Key technical concepts and definitions like an SD-WAN UNI, the SD-WAN Edge, SD-WAN Tunnel Virtual Connections, SD-WAN Virtual Connection End Points, and Underlay Connectivity Services (UCS).

SD-WAN standardization offers numerous benefits that will help accelerate SD-WAN market growth while improving overall customer experience with hybrid networking solutions. Key benefits include:

  • Enabling a wide range of ecosystem stakeholders to use the same terminology when buying, selling, assessing, deploying, and delivering SD-WAN services.
  • Making it easier to interface policy with intelligent underlay connectivity services to provide a better end-to-end application experience with guaranteed service resiliency.
  • Facilitating inclusion of SD-WAN services in standardized LSO architectures, thereby advancing efforts to orchestrate MEF 3.0 SD-WAN services across automated networks.
  • Paving the way for creation and implementation of certified MEF 3.0 SD-WAN services, which will give users confidence that a service meets a fundamental set of requirements.

MEF has advanced work on 12 major SD-WAN and SASE-related initiatives during 2020.

MEF SD-WAN and SASE Standardization Initiatives

In July 2020, MEF published the MEF Services Model: Information Model for SD-WAN Services (MEF 82) standard. This document is strategically important to MEF’s SD-WAN work as it describes the MEF 70 specification in a programming object model representation that can be used to build LSO APIs to orchestrate SD-WAN services.

In August 2020, MEF released two new closely associated draft standards with the goal of moving these through the final stage of MEF member and Board approval in 1Q 2021.

  • The draft SD-WAN Service Attributes and Service Framework (MEF 70.1 Draft Release 1) standard is the next phase in the evolution of the original MEF 70 standard.
  • The draft Application Security for SD-WAN Services (MEF 88 Draft Release 1) standard is MEF’s first specific to security. It leverages the concept of zones in MEF 70.1.

Other SD-WAN and SASE-related standards projects include:

  • SASE Services and Attributes (MEF W117)
  • Zero Trust Framework and Service Attributes (MEF W118)
  • Universal SD-WAN Edge (MEF W119)
  • Performance Monitoring & Service Readiness Testing for SD-WAN Services (MEF W105)
  • LSO Legato Service Specification – SD-WAN (MEF W100)
  • Intent-Based Orchestration (MEF W71)
  • Policy Driven Orchestration (MEF W95)
  • Network Slicing (MEF W84) – SD-WAN Use Case

The draft SD-WAN Service Attributes and Service Framework (MEF 70.1 Draft Release 1) standard makes a number of significant changes to the foundational MEF 70 standard. Detailed in Appendix C, key changes include:

  • New service attributes for Underlay Connectivity Services, UCS UNIs, and UCS end points.
  • New Performance Ingress Policy Criterion to specify performance goals for an Application Flow.
  • New AF-Security Ingress Policy Criterion to invoke security functions listed in MEF W88 for an Application Flow.
  • Support for partitioning the Subscribers IP Hosts into Zones.
  • Support for multiple Virtual Topologies that can be assigned by Policy.

The diagram below illustrates changes in the draft 70.1 standard related to SD-WAN Application Flows and the Policy function.

MEF 70.1 Draft Release 1 Standard: SD-WAN Application Flow & Policy Function

MEF 70.1 Draft Release 1 Standard: SD-WAN Application Flow & Policy Function

 

The draft Application Security for SD-WAN Services (MEF 88 Draft Release 1) standard focuses on defining policy criteria and actions to protect applications (application flows) over an SD-WAN service. This includes defining threats, security functions, and security policy terminology and attributes, and then describing what actions a security policy should take in response to certain threats. Threats being addressed can come from within the SD-WAN subscriber’s network or externally from the Internet when connecting to public clouds and other Internet hosts.

MEF 88 leverages the concept of Zones defined in MEF 70.1. With Zones, an enterprise subscriber defines a grouping of subnets, using business function naming, where unique security policies are applied. Examples of Zones include a Point-of-Sales (POS) Terminal Zone where POS terminals are segregated from the rest of the network to protect payment card transactions connecting to a data center from being scanned and information stolen. Another Zone could be a Guest Wi-Fi Zone where visitors are allowed access to the Internet but are segregated from the corporate network. For each Zone, security policies would be applied for various defense postures.

In August 2020, MEF announced its work to define Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) services within the MEF 3.0 Global Services Framework. SASE is a developing market that combines network connectivity and security functions with subscriber policies to meet a higher level of performance and assurance required by the modern enterprise. MEF’s goal is to achieve industry consensus on a standardized, converged software-defined networking, security, and policy framework that can be used by enterprises and service providers to transform consumption of cloud services and applications in the form of SASE services.

MEF work underpinning the type of consensus needed to standardize SASE services is well underway against a backdrop of accelerated change at the network edge.

  • In July 2020, MEF published a groundbreaking MEF SASE Services Framework white paper that outlines a framework to standardize SASE services based on existing SD-WAN, security, automation, and other standardization work within MEF (noted above in response to Question 4).
  • Also, in July, MEF formally launched the SASE Services and Attributes (MEF W117) project that will leverage this standardization work.

As MEF’s CTO stated, the SASE concept adjusts for a fundamental change in how enterprise users access business systems and the associated increased demand for lower-latency edge compute capabilities closer to the user. The well-defined and static network edge of the past is being replaced by more users working outside corporate walls and accessing business systems beyond corporate data centers. SASE shifts the focus from site-centric to user-centric security. The user can be anything (human, IoT, etc.) and anywhere, and security and network functions can be distributed away from the enterprise data center to maximize the availability of high performance edges (e.g. PoPs) and security clouds.

See On-Demand MEF Webinar: SD-WAN Security and SASE (August 2020) for details on standards work related to SD-WAN, Application Security for SD-WAN, SASE, and Zero Trust.

MEF is now developing a new Universal SD-WAN Edge (MEF W119) standard that defines a common approach to facilitate interoperability of SD-WAN equipment from different vendors with a Universal SD-WAN Edge deployed at cloud and service provider locations. This project is backed by major service provider and cloud provider MEF members.

MEF’s IBN work aims to enable an SD-WAN service subscriber to set intent-related performance and security objectives and have that be translated into granular technical policies at the network level. Toward this goal, MEF is building Domain Specific Languages (DSLs) – using restricted natural languages – that will simplify APIs that sit between end-users and service providers.

Enterprise users are looking for a frictionless end-to-end experience with guaranteed performance and security from their devices to their applications/services, regardless of a user’s location. The idea with network slicing is to carve out a subset of the end-to-end network infrastructure that could carry performance objectives and, in the future, security objectives. The end-to-end network slice needs to be orchestrated across all of the individual networks involved in providing a subscriber’s end-to-end experience, including the subscriber network, the service provider network(s), and the cloud provider network.

MEF currently is developing a Network Slicing (MEF 84) standard that describes network slicing within the context of MEF LSO (Lifecycle Service Orchestration) and MEF services. MEF 84 uses the term “Network Service” to define a network slice offered as a service to one or more subscribers. The idea is that service providers can structure and organize subsets of their infrastructure into network slices that can be managed, controlled, and orchestrated independently from other network slice subsets.

In an example SD-WAN use case, an enterprise could buy a set of several network slices (i.e., real-time, premium, or business) and overlay their SD-WAN performance objectives onto each of these slices. The end-to-end network slice could be based on networks involving both wireline and wireless resources, including 5G.

See the MEF CTO Chat: MEF End-to-End Slicing, SD-WAN, and 5G (September 2020) for a deeper discussion of this topic with illustrations.

Different service and technology providers will have their own pace, but companies generally will want to align to MEF 70 and follow-on standards because of the confidence that this helps instill in customers.

Dozens of service provider and technology companies already have certified SD-WAN services and technology, contributed to standards development, participated in SD-WAN-related Proof of Concept demonstrations, and/or otherwise aligned with the SD-WAN standard. This includes players like AT&T, Comcast Business, Colt, Lumen, Orange Business Services, PCCW Global, Spectrum Enterprise, Telia Company, Verizon, Vodacom South Africa, Fortinet, Fujitsu Network Communications, Nuage Networks, Versa Networks, VMware, Infovista, Cisco, Spirent, Amdocs, Silver Peak, and other MEF member companies.

MEF’s SD-WAN standardization work already is starting to draw the attention of some big purchasers of WAN services. As an example, the US federal government’s General Services Administration has formally added SD-WAN to their Enterprise Infrastructure Solution (EIS) Service Guide used by government agencies and has called upon EIS contracted suppliers to comply with current and future MEF SD-WAN standards. The US government is the largest buyer of connectivity services in the world.

Research from Heavy Reading indicates that 76% of 125 surveyed service provider professionals worldwide believe that SD-WAN services certification is “critical” or “important” for accelerating SD-WAN market growth. Seventy-three percent of this same group believe SD-WAN technology and professional certifications are also critical or important for market growth.

In November 2019, MEF publicly introduced the MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Certification Program, with Spirent as the SD-WAN Authorized Certification and Test Partner (ACTP). Certification involves rigorous tests of the service attributes and requirements defined in MEF 70 and described in detail in the MEF SD-WAN Certification Test Requirements (MEF 90) standard.

The following 10 companies have achieved MEF 3.0 SD-WAN certification:

  • Service providers: Comcast Business, PCCW Global, Spectrum Enterprise, Telia Company, and Vodacom South Africa
  • Technology vendors: Fortinet, Infovista, Nuage Networks, Versa Networks, and VMware.

Complete lists of MEF 3.0 certified SD-WAN certified companies can be found in the MEF Services Certification Registry and the MEF Technology Certification Registry.

Companies interested in participating in the MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Certification Program should contact MEF.

MEF 3.0 SD-WAN certification will evolve with SD-WAN standards. The evolution of MEF 70 to MEF 70.1 will be accompanied shortly thereafter by an evolution of MEF 90 to MEF 90.1.

In November 2019, MEF announced the SD-WAN Certified Professional (MEF-SDCP) program. MEF’s SD-WAN professional certification is the industry’s only exam verifying knowledge, skills, and abilities in the domains of SD-WAN based on the MEF 70 standard as well as other fundamentals of SD-WAN solutions. This exam is designed for technically-oriented SD-WAN professionals ranging from pre-sales to network/service engineering and operational personnel in the service provider, technology vendor, and enterprise communities.

As mid-November 2020, there are more than 350 MEF-SDCPs from 90+ companies in 33 countries. Adoption is strong and growing as service providers enlarge their SD-WAN teams to meet customer demand for managed SD-WAN services. Click here to learn about and register for the MEF-SDCP exam.

Visit the MEF Professional Registry to see a list of MEF-SDCP and other certified professionals.

The following links offer useful information available to all industry professionals:

MEF’s Enterprise Advisory Council (EAC) offers an excellent opportunity for enterprises to learn more about and influence MEF work related to SD-WAN, application security, SASE, and other initiatives. The EAC is a collaborative group of leading enterprises designed to strengthen the channels of communications among end-users, service providers, and vendors involved in digital transformation initiatives. We have a limited number of seats open on the council for large enterprises, and participation is free. Learn more about this program by contacting MEF.

Detailed information on active projects is available to MEF members on the following wiki pages:

Contributions to the SD-WAN and SASE work are welcomed. Contact MEF to express your interest and to obtain details on how you can participate.

Learn More about SD-WAN

Educational Materials

MEF 3.0 SD-WAN & SASE – Frequently Asked Questions — 2020 Nov

Product Portfolio: Overlay, SD-WAN

Tags: Certification

MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Services & SASE – Frequently Asked Questions

Learn More

MEF 3.0 Workshop – Digital Services Expertise – New MEF SD-WAN Certified Professional (MEF-SDCP) — 2019 Nov

Product Portfolio: SD-WAN

Addressing the skills gap challenge is tantamount to successfully navigating the industry's digital transformation. MEF's SD-WAN Certified Professional designation validates the knowledge required to design, engineer, operate and solution MEF managed SD-WAN services.

Learn More

MEF 3.0 Workshop – MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Certification — 2019 Nov

Product Portfolio: SD-WAN

MEF's SD-WAN Certification serves to accelerate market adoption of managed SD-WAN services by validating compliance with industry-designed and delivered standards for delivering managed SD-WAN as well as the underlying technology.

Learn More

MEF 3.0 Workshop – MEF 3.0 SD WAN Services — 2019 Nov

Product Portfolio: SD-WAN

In July 2019, MEF published the industry’s first global standard defining an SD-WAN service and its service attributes to help accelerate SD-WAN market growth and facilitate creation of powerful new hybrid networking solutions that are optimized for digital transformation.

Learn More

MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Services — 2019 Nov

Product Portfolio: SD-WAN

Tags: Also in Mandarin, Also in Spanish

This White Paper is intended for SD-WAN Service Providers and their enterprise customers who want to understand what a standardized, managed SD-WAN service is and the benefits it brings to the industry.

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Technical Standards & SDKs

MEF 70.1 Draft Release 1 SD-WAN Service Attributes and Service Framework — 2020 Aug

Product Portfolio: SD-WAN

The SD-WAN Service Attributes and Service Framework Standard defines the externally visible behavior of SD-WAN Services. A Service deployment is based on an agreement between an SD-WAN Subscriber (the buyer) and an SD-WAN Service Provider (the seller) that includes agreement on the values of a set of SD-WAN Service Attributes defined in this document.

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MEF 70 SD-WAN Service Attributes and Services — 2019 Jul

Product Portfolio: SD-WAN
Standard Type: Service Attributes

The SD-WAN Service Attributes and Services Standard defines the externally-visible behavior of SD-WAN Services. The Service description is based on an agreement between an SD-WAN Subscriber (the buyer) and an SD-WAN Service Provider (the seller) that includes agreement on the values of a set of SD-WAN Service Attributes defined in this document.

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What Can I Achieve with MEF 3.0 SD-WAN?

Adopting MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Services standards empowers service providers to unlock new overlay digital services potential and best adapt to the application-centric needs of your enterprise customers. Enterprises can, in turn, quickly assess and verify the foundational components and service attributes of a certified SD-WAN service to fully address business requirements. In addition, a MEF-certified SD-WAN service is future-proofed to enable dynamic and automated capabilities supporting operational and control-related interactions related to the service.

MEF 3.0 SD-WAN advantages:

  • Accelerates buying, selling, assessing and delivering SD-WAN services through common terminology.
  • Improves application experience with simplified interfacing of policy with intelligent underlay connectivity.
  • Facilitates orchestration and automation.
  • Delivers confidence that SD-WAN services meet requirements.

What the industry is saying about SD-WAN

Be In the Know

Engage in the MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Service Arena

As a MEF member, you have access to all the standards work, including incubation projects, pre-release standards, and working drafts. Engage with your industry peers and lend your voice to the SD-WAN standards development. Our current initiatives are available in the MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Service Hub on the MEF Members’ Wiki.


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