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A Special Interview with Nan Chen, President, MEF PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 14 November 2017 11:00

MEF has been a consistent contributor to our industry and with their annual meeting in November they have introduced MEF 3.0: A Transformational Framework for Agile, Assured & Orchestrated Services.

The following are some question we recently posed to Nan Chen the President of MEF, and his responses;

TR: You have launched MEF 3.0 at MEF17. Can you explain what MEF 3.0 is and its significance for the market?

Nan Chen: MEF 3.0 is a transformational framework for defining, delivering, and certifying agile, assured, and orchestrated communication services across a global ecosystem of automated networks. It is the realization of our Third Network vision.

MEF 3.0 services empower users with the dynamic performance and security required to thrive in the digital economy. MEF 3.0 blends sophisticated, dynamic service definitions with an emerging suite of LSO (Lifecycle Service Orchestration) APIs to provide an on-demand, cloud-centric experience with unprecedented user- and application-directed control over network resources and service capabilities. 

Further, subscription-based certification from our testing and certification partner, Iometrix, brings a whole new approach to how service providers and technology vendors can evolve their standardized, certified offerings jn a much more agile fashion.

TR: What’s driving interest in MEF 3.0?

Nan Chen: The pace of technology change is accelerating rapidly, with nearly every industry being challenged by digital transformation.

End-users need services that address increasingly complex networking requirements, especially with the challenges posed by cloud applications, IoT, mobility, and emerging 5G. They are looking for dynamic services to increase business agility, innovate, and adapt. They want to pay for what they consume and they want to get services on-demand as much as possible.

On the service provider side, we see a growing realization that many providers are going to get left behind in the market if they do not retool their networks, operations, and service portfolios in order to be more flexible and able to quickly address customer needs. MEF 3.0 opens up new revenue and cost saving opportunities by accelerating delivery of standards-based dynamic services over more efficient networks. 

TR:  What does MEF 3.0 bring to the table compared to the dynamic services that already are in the market?

Nan Chen: In recent years, a number of service providers have introduced dynamic connectivity and virtualized services, but their innovation primarily has been limited to services delivered over individual provider networks.

To realize the full potential of our market, the industry needs to move beyond independent islands of excellence. We need to enable delivery of dynamic services across multiple provider networks, maximizing the return on SDN and NFV investments. Inter-provider automation is a huge driver for MEF 3.0.

TR:  Can you elaborate on the MEF 3.0 framework?

Nan Chen:  The MEF 3.0 transformational global services framework is comprised of four major elements: (1) standardized, orchestrated services; (2) open LSO APIs; (3) service and technology certification programs; and (4) expanded community collaboration.

MEF 3.0 is a living framework that drives continuous development of the world’s most advanced standards-based network services. The MEF 3.0 service family includes dynamic Carrier Ethernet, wavelength, IP, SD-WAN, Security-as-a-Service, and other virtualized services that will be orchestrated over programmable networks using LSO APIs.

Standardized LSO APIs are critical because they enable end-to-end orchestration of MEF 3.0 services across multiple providers and over multiple network technology domains.

MEF 3.0 certification is delivered on a revolutionary cloud-based virtual test platform that enables subscribing companies to certify that their services and technologies comply with the latest MEF 3.0 releases.

The MEF 3.0 framework provides the ability, for the first time, to move to an incremental release approach for both services and LSO APIs and to tightly align certification with each release. Subscribing companies can certify combinations of services and LSO APIs and can certify as often as desired.

Rounding out the picture, MEF is working with many of the world’s leading service and technology providers, open source projects, standards associations, and most recently, enterprises to realize a shared vision of enabling agile, assured, and orchestrated services across multiple providers and network technology domains.

TR: What MEF 3.0 services will be the first to enter the market?

Nan Chen: MEF 3.0 CE R1 is our first release, while work on standardizing orchestration-ready wavelength, IP, SD-WAN, and security services currently is progressing within MEF. With the launch of MEF 3.0, we are making information available on how the MEF 3.0 framework compares with CE 2.0 and rolling out MEF 3.0 CE technical and certification blueprint documents. Our focus is to make it very clear how existing CE 2.0 certified companies can migrate to MEF 3.0.

TR:  How about an update on LSO API developments?

Nan Chen: We recently achieved a major milestone with the first release of the LSO Sonata SDK (software development kit) that features standardized APIs for orchestrating services across multiple providers. And we also announced the first release of the LSO Presto SDK that relates to service orchestration over multiple network technology domains. The inter-provider LSO Sonata APIs for address validation, serviceability, and ordering and the intra-provider LSO Presto API for network resource provisioning included in these new SDKs are now available for experimental use by MEF members and associated MEF programs.

TR: Can you provide more color on expanded community collaboration?

Nan Chen:  Sure, we have great examples related to orchestration and operations work.

More than 25 MEF member companies and other industry organizations – including TM Forum, ONF, and ODL – have been involved in advancing the LSO Sonata API and LSO Presto API initiatives.

In September, MEF and ATIS jointly published a new international standard for ordering Carrier Ethernet services, and this specification will be leveraged for developing automated LSO API systems.

MEF and ONAP – a Linux Foundation project – recently announced joint collaboration, and we are currently reviewing and prioritizing a variety of joint work efforts.

During MEF17, we will be hearing updates on various prototype MEF 3.0 implementations, including a multi-operator ONAP project and a service telemetry project involving PNDA, another Linux Foundation project.

TR: Any final thoughts?

Nan Chen: I just want to give a big thanks to all of many individuals and their companies who have contributed time and resources to advance MEF work to reshape the communications landscape.  We are part of a great community of professionals who are delivering innovations with lasting value. If you have not been involved in MEF, we encourage you to join us on this exciting journey!

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