ORLANDO -- MEF 2017 -- The Metro Ethernet Forum is throwing its arms around creating a new ecosystem that was designed to enable service providers to define, deliver and certify new orchestrated services globally.
Such is the mandate of MEF 3.0, which was officially announced during a press conference at MEF17 on Monday. MEF 3.0 has a wider and deeper reach than MEF's previous Carrier Ethernet efforts, although the latter did include 100 service provider members and the creation of an estimated $80 billion global market for Carrier Ethernet services. (See MEF to Debut New Certification Program at Conference.)
MEF President NAN Chen said based on his organization's success with Carrier Ethernet, it was more than qualified to launch MEF 3.0, which MEF is officially calling MEF 3.0 Transformational Global Services Framework.
MEF described MEF 3.0 as a transformation framework for defining, delivering and certifying agile, assured and orchestrated network services across a global ecosystem of automated networks.
"To reach the full potential of digital transformation providers of dynamic services must be integrated into a seamless, scalable connectivity fabric cutting across geographic regions," Nan said.
MEF 3.0 in the House!
The MEF Panel 3.0 (from left): COO Kevin Vachon; CTO Pascal Menezes; President Nan Chen; Senior Vice President Dan Pitt; and Chairman Michael Strople.
MEF 3.0 comprises four core pillars: standardized services, open Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) APIs, a subscription-based certification program and community development.
The certification program is notable on several fronts, according to MEF COO Kevin Vachon and CTO Pascal Menezes. Instead of vendors and service providers certifying in waves, they can buy a subscription to whatever area they are certifying in, and they can certify as many times as they want in that area.
The virtualized, cloud-based certification platform is administered by Iometrix Inc. . Iometrix President Bob Mandeville said that by using new algorithms vendors and service providers could reduce costs by not needing to launch probes, set up labs and upgrade or buy new equipment. What was once a manual process becomes automated at the push of a button, Mandeville said, and the results are directly uploaded to a registry.
While it's up to the service providers to decide when they want to engage in the subscription-based certification process, Mandeville estimated they would start to take place early next year.
MEF defined the standardized, orchestrated MEF 3.0 services as Carrier Ethernet, wavelength, IP, SD-WAN, security-as-a-service, and other virtualized services that could be orchestrated over programmable networks using the LSO APIs.
The community pillar of MEF 3.0 will work with other standards development organizations (SDOs) and open source groups to make sure everyone is on the same page. MEF also is planning an enterprise advisory council for enterprises to make sure that service providers are giving large multinational companies the services they want.
There's also an effort underway to get more Tier 2 and Tier 3 service providers involved since they also need to be plugged into the MEF 3.0 ecosystem to serve the areas that the Tier 1 providers do not.
"They are the blocking factor to full automation, in my opinion," Menezes said. "A lot of the access networks around the world are not Tier 1 operators. We have to figure out a way to bootstrap them up to get at least some of the high-level services and then automation on the OSS side."
MEF is developing a program for the smaller service providers that could be launched in early 2018. Education will be key for MEF 3.0, particularly for the smaller operators, Menezes said.
With MEF 3.0 being more of a living framework, service providers, vendors and end customers need to approach it differently than previous constructs.
"The biggest obstacle is for all of us to take on a different mind-set and move from static thinking and 'waterfall' thinking to DevOps," said Dan Pitt, executive vice president, MEF. "We have done it, we have felt pain and tension, and we have succeeded."
— Mike Robuck, Editor, Telco Transformation