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12 Sep 2017
While much of our effort has centered on what it takes
to orchestrate Carrier Ethernet, wavelength, and IP services
over multiple operators and multiple technology domains, we
announced in July that we have extended our work to standardise
and orchestrate SD-WAN managed services as well. In our view,
an SD-WAN managed service is a great use case delivering on the
Third Network vision.
Agile, Assured & Orchestrated
MEF members will achieve this vision by building upon
advances in various cloud-centric technologies such as open LSO
(Lifecycle Service Orchestration) APIs, SDN, and NFV.
These technologies can be used to create a new global
business network fabric that combines the agility of the cloud
with a new layer of intelligence that overlays the
interconnected islands of connectivity networks (e.g. CE 2.0
and MPLS) provided by different operators.
In addition, MEF has been developing an open set of LSO APIs
that will be used to automate service ordering, fulfillment,
performance, usage, analytics, and security both within an
operator domain and across multi-operator networks.
This approach overcomes existing OSS/BSS constraints by
defining service abstractions that hide the complexity of
underlying technologies and network layers from the
applications and users of the services.
MEF’s approach to SD-WAN managed
MEF believes SD-WAN managed services will play a major role
in accelerating the transition to agile, assured, and
orchestrated services, but just like with the Carrier Ethernet
market, it is critical for the industry to align on common
definitions and standards in order to maximise market growth
potential. Hence, MEF has begun defining SD-WAN service
terminology, components, and implementations in the context of
MEF’s LSO Reference Architecture and Framework.
This work – including a new white paper titled
Understanding SD-WAN Managed Services – will ensure
consistency of performance, policy, and security of SD-WAN
services orchestrated across multiple provider networks.
In our view, fundamental SD-WAN managed service
characteristics include: Secure, IP-based virtual overlay
network; Transport-independence of underlay network; Service
assurance of each SD-WAN tunnel; Application-driven packet
forwarding; High availability through multiple WANs and
Policy-based packet forwarding. Also: Service automation via
centralised management, control, and orchestration and
Virtualised bump-in-the-wire services such as security,
application performance management, WAN optimisation, etc.
There are many use cases for SD-WANs from providing a
complete secure, multi-site VPN service to simply providing
access to off-net sites via last-mile Internet broadband.
Unlike other network connectivity services, SD-WANs use
application-driven networking where application traffic
– e.g., Skype for Business or SAP traffic –
is forwarded over different WANs based on QoS, security, and
business priority policies. Since SD-WANs provide centralised
control and management automation plus a secured overlay
network over multiple WANs, enterprises worldwide can reduce
the cost of their WANs while having similar business-grade WAN
performance and security guarantees.
However, SD-WANs must be operated by either enterprise or
service providers. Many enterprises prefer to have a CSPs or
MSPs deliver an SD-WAN managed service rather than own and
operate it themselves, since network management and operations
is not their core business. CSPs and MSPs are now aggressively
introducing SD-WAN managed services to address enterprise
challenges and deliver agile, assured, and orchestrated network
services leveraging SD-WAN technologies.
MEF has embarked on the journey to standardise SD-WAN
managed services for large scale and multi-tenant deployments
by CSPs and MSPs. The charter is to define deployment
scenarios, solution architectures, and open APIs in addition to
SD-WAN terminology. MEF will provide market education through
webinars, white papers, and workshops at industry events.
A common SD-WAN vernacular will enable buyers, sellers,
and users to more effectively communicate needs and intent,
while open standard LSO APIs will automate, facilitate, and
accelerate SD-WAN implementations and service deployments.
For more on MEF’s perspective, see our recent
on-demand webinar: SD-WAN Managed Services: Terminology,
Use Cases, Challenges and MEF Work