MEF has announced the availability of an approved draft technical specification for MEF members that, for the first time in the industry, defines an SD-WAN service and its various attributes.
With strong support from service provider and technology provider members, MEF currently is on track to ratify and publicly release its MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Service Attributes and Service Definition standard in 1Q 2019.
SD-WAN service standardization will enable a wide range of ecosystem stakeholders to use the same terminology when buying, selling, assessing, deploying, and delivering SD-WAN services. The SD-WAN service definition is a foundational step for accelerating sales, market adoption, and certification of MEF 3.0 SD-WAN services orchestrated across a global ecosystem of automated networks.
SD-WAN Service Standardization
SD-WAN service standardization is being conducted within the context of the MEF 3.0 Global Services Framework. It is part of a transformational initiative to standardize a complete family of dynamic Carrier Ethernet (CE), IP, Optical Transport, SD-WAN, security, and other virtualized services that will be orchestrated over programmable networks using LSO (Lifecycle Service Orchestration) APIs.
MEF’s SD-WAN service definition specification describes requirements for an application-aware, over-the-top WAN connectivity service that uses policies to determine how application flows are forwarded over multiple underlay networks irrespective of the underlying technologies.
“MEF’s groundbreaking work in standardizing an SD-WAN service addresses one of the biggest obstacles impacting SD-WAN service market growth,” said Nan Chen, President, MEF. “In a recent joint MEF and Vertical Systems Group survey of service providers worldwide, nearly 80% of respondents identified the lack of an industry-standard service definition as a significant challenge for service providers to offer or migrate to SD-WAN services. MEF’s SD-WAN service standardization will undoubtedly accelerate sales of SD-WAN products and services like MEF accomplished with Carrier Ethernet service standardization.”
Just as the industry has benefited from MEF standardization of CE services – which now exceed an estimated $50 billion in annual revenues globally – there are numerous potential benefits associated with a common SD-WAN service definition. These include, among other things:
Reducing market confusion about service components, core capabilities, and related concepts, thus saving valuable time given the scarce availability of skilled personnel.
Enabling service providers and technology providers to focus on providing a core set of common capabilities and then building on that core resulting in differentiated offerings.
Facilitating inclusion of SD-WAN services in standardized LSO architectures, thereby advancing efforts to orchestrate MEF 3.0 SD-WAN services across multiple providers.
Paving the way for creation and implementation of SD-WAN services certification, which will give users confidence that a service meets a fundamental set of requirements.
MEF member companies are involved in multiple SD-WAN implementation-related initiatives that can be leveraged to provide feedback on standardization requirements and create software-oriented artifacts that can be used to accelerate efforts to orchestrate standardized SD-WAN services.
These initiatives include the MEF 3.0 Multi-Vendor SD-WAN Implementation project, the MEF18 LSO Hackathon, and several SD-WAN Proof of Concept (PoC) demonstrations at MEF18.
The MEF18 LSO Hackathon is focused on developing and validating data models for SD-WAN services. This presents a unique opportunity for those involved in technical aspects of SD-WAN services and products to learn in a hands-on way about the latest SD-WAN service and LSO standardization work at MEF as well as the related API and YANG work at ONF and IETF.
Three MEF18 PoC demonstrations directly related to LSO-enabled orchestration of SD-WAN services include:
Zero Touch Services with Secure SD-WAN
Towards a Multi-Vendor Orchestrated SD-WAN – LSO-enabled Solution with Open Source Orchestrator and Container-based uCPEs
Instantiation and Delivery of SD-WAN over a Virtualized and Orchestrated Wholesale Carrier Ethernet Access Service.
MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Service Certification
MEF currently plans to introduce a pilot version of certification for MEF 3.0 SD-WAN services in the first half of 2019. This certification will test a set of service attributes and their behaviors defined in the upcoming SD-WAN standard and described in detail in the MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Service Certification Blueprint.
MEF Professional Certification
MEF released earlier this year the third in its series of Professional Certifications: MEF-SDN/NFV. This certification is an important tool for any company using or providing SD-WAN services to address the emerging and significant shortfall in skilled personnel familiar enough with SDN and NFV to meet the company’s SD-WAN requirements.
Key Participants in SD-WAN Service Standardization & Demonstrations
More than 30 service and technology providers have contributed to or supported the MEF SD-WAN service standardization and certification effort, participated in MEF 3.0 SD-WAN implementation work, and/or participated in the SD-WAN PoCs at MEF18.
Speaking on this development, Kevin O’Toole, Senior Vice President, Product Management, Comcast Business, said, “Customers increasingly are embracing SD-WAN as an opportunity to support business transformation, control costs, and run applications in a more effective way. We are excited to see the important work MEF is doing to standardize SD-WAN services allowing customers to ensure solutions meet critical criteria around functionality, security, scalability and quality. Certification against those standards creates an important benchmark that is good for customers and good for the industry.”
Laurent Perrin, Head of Application Driven Networks, Connectivity, Orange Business Services, explained, “Orange Business Services is very pleased to support the first MEF SD-WAN standard. Our customers are expecting agile and application driven network services and we believe that this new standard will facilitate the adoption and deployment of SD-WAN and meet their expectations. We look forward to working with MEF on ongoing initiatives to develop the interoperability of SD-WAN solutions and to define standardized APIs that will allow to integrate SD-WAN in a simplified and fully secured end-to-end orchestration model, from the end user to the applications.”
Sunil Khandekar, Founder & CEO, Nuage Networks, informed, “We are very pleased with MEF’s very fast progress in standardizing SD-WAN services. MEF brings industry-recognized standardization to a rapidly developing SD-WAN marketplace by defining both SD-WAN services and open APIs that provide an essential foundation for utilizing the full power of SDN and NFV technologies. By leveraging this framework, SD-WANs can be deployed in a fully disaggregated fashion on an open CPE platform and provide comprehensive SD-WAN functionality as well as on-demand service chaining of VNFs to provide the flexibility and choice that enterprises need from SD-WAN solutions.”
Tim Van Herck, VeloCloud Business Unit at VMware and Co-Chair of Working Group, said, “VMware believes that standardizing SD-WAN service constructs, terminology and service orchestration APIs is an important part of enabling the continued growth of SD-WAN adoption throughout the WAN industry. This is why we are proud to be an active contributor to the development of the MEF SD-WAN standard, and the standardization of the open LSO north-bound APIs for SD-WAN implementations.”
Ralph Santitoro, Head of SDN/NFV/SD-WAN Services, Fujitsu Network Communications, explained, “SD-WAN empowers enterprises to reach and experience their multi-cloud, digital transformation objectives. MEF’s work to standardize an application-aware SD-WAN service that operates over multiple underlay WANs from any service provider will set the bar for SD-WAN service capabilities. This is very much needed in the industry and will simplify how customers evaluate different service offerings.”