MEF Releases SD-WAN Standards


By: R. Scott Raynovich

LOS ANGELES -- Standards help move technology markets forward by providing interoperability and raising awareness. To that end, the MEF, an industry group supporting standardization in the service-provider community, on here on Tuesday at its annual MEF18 conference released an extensive set of specifications for software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN).

SD-WAN is an important emerging market in networking which enables enterprise networking services to be virtualized and delivered on industry-standard hardware, also known as commercial off-the-shelf (COTs) hardware, and provisioned and delivered from the cloud. This should speed up the way businesses consume and enable network connections.

As SD-WAN market gains momentum, these standards will be helpful by providing a standardized blueprint for comparing the feature sets and interoperability of SD-WAN services and technology. The market has just started to hit a high growth curve, and Futuriom expects the market for SD-WAN tools and network-as-a-service (NaaS) revenue (non-legacy service provider) to reach $1.5 billion by 2019 and $2.5 billion by 2021

Once a technology market gets hot, everybody piles in. And some companies create confusion by defining technology in different ways. The MEF's goal is to clarify that by defining the market and standards. The MEF has also published guides to SD-WAN terminology for the real geeks out there that need a deep dive into the jargon.

MEF’s SD-WAN service specs describe requirements for application-aware, over-the-top WAN connectivity services that uses policies to determine how application flows are forwarded over networking infrastructure.

From the press release:

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.

The MEF says this initiative is directed at three goals:

  • 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.

The MEF has initiated a certification program known as 3.0 SD-WAN Service Certification to assure that SD-WAN services meet minimum specifications. A pilot program will launch in the first half of 2019 to test a set of service attributes and their behaviors defined in the upcoming SD-WAN.

The MEF says that more than than 30 service and technology providers have contributed to or supported the MEF SD-WAN service standardization and certification effort. A broad range of those participants were on hand here at the conference to participate in proofs-of-concepts, or demos targeted at SD-WAN.

The 3.0 SD-WAN service definitions are part of the MEF 3.0 transformational global services framework for defining, delivering, and certifying assured services orchestrated across a global ecosystem of automated networks.