MEF CTO: Small Operators Must Automate

Unless smaller access providers get on board the automation train, on-demand end-to-end services won't be possible.

November 15, 2017

3 Min Read
MEF CTO: Small Operators Must Automate

ORLANDO -- MEF 17 -- The MEF is planning to aggressively push smaller operators to get on the automation bandwagon to enable faster end-to-end service delivery, CTO Pascal Menezes said here this morning.

"There are thousands and thousands of access operators that haven't automated," Menezes said in a keynote address. "No matter what we do to automate, all the Tier 1 operators can automate, but if they can't get to the last mile and get that thing automated in cloud-agile speed, it will still take three to six months to turn up that loop."

It will be an MEF imperative in 2018 "to get these thousands of providers who are downstream to get in the board with us," he added. "It is a hard nut to crack. But we are going to work on this."

Figure 1: MEF CTO Pascal Menezes

His comments came toward the end of a lengthy technical discussion in which Menezes laid out MEF's plans for advancing development of the Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) application programming interfaces (APIs) that enable a lot of this automation, internal to network operators and between operators as well. With the release of MEF 3.0 this week, the standards development organization is promising to make automation of new service provisioning work not just for Carrier Ethernet but for wavelengths, IP services, SD-WAN, security-as-a-service and newer applications at Layers 4-7 of the network.

But all of that ambition won't accomplish the ultimate goal of fully automated on-demand service provisioning at the speed of cloud delivery today, Menezes said, if the final connection is an access loop on a smaller network operator that is still dependent on spreadsheets and command line interfaces.

One of the things MEF is trying to accomplish with its MEF 3.0 initiative is more of a community, using physical and virtual resources, to test and trial new APIs and features as they come on line, Menezes said. In addition, it is adding an Enterprise Advisory Council to tap directly into business needs, especially for those large businesses that essentially operate as small carriers.

And the MEF CTO made his pitch for common language around modeling so that model-driven approaches by different groups, including SDOs and open source, can be harmonized.

"We have to get to federation," Menezes said. "It's very important -- we are model-driven but we have to agree on the modeling approach so we approach the modeling effort in a standard way."

To that end, MEF is working on a consortium also involving TM Forum, ONAP and the Open Networking Foundation to develop a common modeling approach.

Just prior to Menezes's presentation, the Linux Foundation's Arpit Joshipura also made a pitch for open source/standards cooperation.

It is a chicken-and-egg problem, he said, but one that can be fairly easily solved. "If the chicken is there, focus on the egg, and if the egg is there, focus on the chicken."

In other words, if standards exist, open source groups need to use them as quickly as possible. And if they don't exist, then open source groups need to upstream contributions toward standards, also in a timely way, Joshipura said.

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

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