Think Big, Fast, Revenue MEF 3.0

22 May 2018 | Nan Chen

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Nan Chen

Blog Author | MEF; President


Last year at ITW, I wrote that the industry is undergoing a paradigm shift to agile, assured, and orchestrated services optimised for the digital economy, writes Nan Chen

The transition in communications is now accelerating as service providers and other industry players increase collaboration to deliver solutions that empower users with the dynamic performance and security required to thrive in an era of rapid economic change.

Service Providers Must Transform Quickly

A common theme emerging from conversations with top service provider experts is the sense of urgency that their companies must move quickly to address customer needs and adapt to intensifying competition.  

A combination of threats and opportunities – including increased competition from OTTs, consumer cord cutting, the market shockwave created by new SD-WAN solutions, the emergence of IoT and 5G, and other developments – are intensifying pressures on providers to transform networks, operational processes, portfolios, and customer experience.

As one senior network technology director at a large European operator recently told a MEF audience: “We need to become a telco on steroids if we want to survive…Customer loyalty is not guaranteed” in an on-demand world where everything is defined as a service.

A senior VP at one of the world’s largest global service providers was even more direct: “If you are not nimble, quick, and responsive, you are going to get wiped out.”

Key Steps Providers Must Take

From our vantage point at MEF – with 130+ service provider members worldwide – we see three things that providers must do as part of their transformation journey: become more cloud-like, automated, and interconnected.  

It will not be enough for providers to offer dynamic connectivity and virtualised services over just their own networks. Providers must transition from operating as independent islands of excellence to being integral players in a worldwide business federation of cloud-like networks that support standardised dynamic services across multiple operators.

MEF 3.0 Transformational Global Services Framework

To assist providers, MEF last November introduced the MEF 3.0 transformational framework to define, deliver, and certify agile, assured, and orchestrated services across a global ecosystem of automated networks. MEF 3.0 services will provide an on-demand, cloud-centric experience with unprecedented user- and application-directed control over network resources and service capabilities. 

Dozens of leading service and technology providers, open source projects, and standards associations have publicly embraced MEF 3.0 development, including AT&T, CenturyLink, Colt, Comcast Business, Orange, PCCW Global, PLDT, Sparkle, Spectrum Enterprise, Tata, Verizon, Zayo, the Linux Foundation, TM Forum, and many others. 

MEF 3.0 is comprised of four major elements

•  Standardised, Orchestrated Services

The planned MEF 3.0 service family includes dynamic Carrier Ethernet (CE), Layer 1, IP, SD-WAN, Security-as-a-Service, and other virtualized services that will be orchestrated over programmable networks using LSO (Lifecycle Service Orchestration) APIs. MEF 3.0 CE R1 is the first available release within the MEF 3.0 framework, while work on standardising other orchestration-ready services is progressing. MEF currently is on track to publish a MEF 3.0 Layer 1 services specification within the next several months, with SD-WAN soon to follow.

•  LSO APIs

MEF’s LSO Reference Architecture guides agile development of standardised LSO APIs for end-to-end orchestration of MEF 3.0 services across multiple providers and multiple network technology domains. Among other things, MEF members are working hard to create a suite of inter-provider LSO APIs dealing with automation of commercial contractual agreements, address validation, serviceability, ordering, quoting, billing, assurance, testing, and change management. MEF has taken steps to accelerate work related to LSO APIs for pre-ordering and ordering functions to meet a particularly pressing need for automating the buying and selling process related to wholesale connectivity services. 

•  Service and Technology Certifications 

MEF has increased the agility of our popular service and equipment certification programsto drive availability and adoption of MEF 3.0 certified services and technologies. MEF 3.0 certification is delivered by MEF’s testing partner, Iometrix, on a revolutionary on-demand, cloud-based virtual test platform that empowers companies to certify compliance with the latest MEF 3.0 releases. 

•  Expanded Community Collaboration

MEF is working with a broader range of service and technology providers, open source projects, standards associations, and enterprises to realise a shared vision of orchestrating dynamic services across automated networks.   

Many MEF members are involved in implementation projects to maximise alignment of market implementations with LSO API and services specifications. Our MEFnet compute, storage, and networking platform enables development, testing, integration, and showcasing of MEF 3.0 solutions using open source and commercial products. 

Beyond collaboration at a corporate level, MEF is working to ensure we have a global base of industry professionals with the leading-edge skills required to build automated networks powered by LSO, SDN, NFV, and CE. MEF now offers three certifications as part of a Professional Certification Framework. These include MEF Carrier Ethernet (MEF-CECP), MEF-SDN/NFV, and MEF Network Foundations (MEF-NF) certifications. 

We encourage you to join MEF on this exciting journey to transform the industry and deliver innovative solutions with lasting value.