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MEF Redefining Its Role

Carol Wilson
3/17/2016
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Hard on the heels of naming its first-ever CTO, and a plan to move out of its Layer 2 comfort zone, the MEF today announced a series of initiatives aimed at keeping its work relevant in the era of virtualization.

Chief among these are its efforts to enable on-demand services that deliver end-to-end service level agreements for cloud connections, something that doesn't exist today, says new MEF CTO Pascal Menezes, the former principal at Microsoft Skype for Business. In addition, the MEF has finished and is about to publish its Lifecycle Service Orchestration Reference Architecture & Framework, a benchmark in its LSO work, a major focus for the organization. And it is working more actively with open source groups such as ONOS, which is adapting its Central Office Re-Architected as a Data Center (CORD) project to include delivering enterprise services, including Carrier Ethernet.

While enterprises are looking for greater visibility into their network connections into the cloud, telecom network operators can ill afford to become just the pipes into an Amazon, Microsoft or Google Cloud, Menezes tells Light Reading.

"There are no end-to-end SLAs [for cloud connections], which is a very critical thing for businesses," he says. Enterprises want to use Carrier Ethernet, not a best-effort Internet, for their cloud connections but need it to be more flexible and on-demand. "Service providers want more new revenue than just being a bandwidth pipe to the cloud, they want a single platform for multi-services to include service velocity. They want to participate in this new kind of open source cooperation that is going on that [lets them] write their own code and collaborate together and get to innovation faster."

MEF continues to push what it calls the Third Network -- beyond the Internet and CE 2.0 -- to define Layer 3 IP delivered over a single provider network or over multiple interconnected networks. Its LSO initiative includes both the reference architecture and APIs, as well as operational processes and use cases, to deliver practical solutions for both customers and partners. MEF is also promising a methodology for combining the information models of its different projects into a single unified Common Information Model (CIM), to help in aligning information models in larger projects.

The challenge is to be able to apply the qualities it developed for CE 2.0 site to site on a site-to-cloud basis and add the dynamism of on-demand, Menezes says. Enterprises are eager to offload the headache of networking all their sites to a range of hybrid clouds, if they can find connections flexible enough, and service providers they can trust to deliver networks that are optimized to deliver services that meet their specific applications needs.

"This is the Third Network use case," he says. "We see the ideas -- site to site and site to cloud, and a new more automated agile upstream, and a way of orchestrating all of that."


Take a closer look at Ethernet service strategies in our Ethernet services section here on Light Reading.

In order to help with that more dynamic process, MEF will move up the stack and participate in the Layer 4 through 7 processes as well, Menezes promises. It is partnering with the Broadband Forum and with ON.Lab , which developed ONOS and its popular CORD use case, and working with members who are developing their own approach to orchestration of all the moving parts of virtualization.

The organization has other intentions, such as moving its LSO efforts into their next phase, which is developing operational processes and use cases, and using the UNITE program to bring together industry standards and open source players into a common effort. MEF has also launched two opening initiatives of its own, which it is calling OpenCS and Open LSO. The former will define open source software and open source hardware for a network ecosystem that can use NFV and SDN to enable MEF-defined services, such as CE 2.0 and higher-level IP services. The second, OpenLSO, focuses on establishing working open source code for the LSO functions that MEF is specifying, including open standard APIs for legacy and virtualized network infrastructures.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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Sterling Perrin
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Sterling Perrin,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/17/2016 | 2:06:11 PM
Re: Leap of faith
<So the implication is that MEF has outlived its original mission?>

yes, I think that part is clear. The question is whether the organization should adopt a new mission, as it seems to be doing. I think the comparison to the March of Dimes is a good one. 

Sterling
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/17/2016 | 1:19:27 PM
Re: Leap of faith
So the implication is that MEF has outlived its original mission?
Duh!
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Duh!,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/17/2016 | 1:09:21 PM
Re: Leap of faith
Question: What was the mission of the March of Dimes when it was founded in 1938?

Answer: To cure polio

Question: What happened on April 12, 1955?

Answer: Dr. Jonas Salk announced first effective polio vaccine

Question: What happened next?

Answer: Nearly universal immunization of children led to collapse of polio in industrialized countries

Question: Where did that leave the March of Dimes in the early 1960s?

Answer: Without a cause.

Question: What were their options:

Answer: Disband or find another mission

Question: What did they do?

Answer: Changed their mission to reducing birth defects.

End of Allegory.

Standards organizations are highly susceptible to March of Dimes syndrome. MEF is apparently no exception.

 
Sterling Perrin
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Sterling Perrin,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/17/2016 | 10:34:58 AM
Re: Leap of faith
My question is: are service providers asking the MEF to come in and fill this role at higher layers? Or is this being driven by the MEF management in an effort to remain relevant?

I'm wondering if work beyond layer 2 is best addressed by the ETSI NFV ISG or the IETF?

Sterling
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/17/2016 | 9:48:41 AM
Leap of faith
So the end goal here is to enable network operators to create SLAs that include performance elements that are beyond their immediate control?
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