Exclusive: MEF to Rival ONF, OpenDaylight With SDN Strategy

The Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) is getting ready to take on OpenFlow, OpenDaylight and more with its own connectivity and orchestration APIs as part of its 'Third Network' strategy.

Dan Jones, Mobile Editor

September 23, 2014

3 Min Read
Exclusive: MEF to Rival ONF, OpenDaylight With SDN Strategy

The Metro Ethernet Forum is to challenge the emerging dominance of SDN specifications such as OpenFlow and the open source code coming from the OpenDaylight project with its own APIs for physical and virtual network connectivity and service orchestration.

The MEF is calling this network-as-a-service (NaaS) play "The Third Network," and is set to announce the details this week, Light Reading has learned. (See Defining SDN & NFV.)

The MEF is currently best known for its Carrier Ethernet specifications. The Third Network strategy represents a new, but perhaps not unexpected, direction for the organization, which has been a significant industry player during the past 15 or so years as Ethernet became widely adopted in wide area networks, but which has been left behind by the network virtualization trend. (See Is 2014 the Year of Carrier Ethernet 2.0?)

Now the organization is looking for a piece of the SDN specifications action.

"The goal of the MEF's NaaS vision is to enable agile and assured networks and connectivity services orchestrated across internal and external network domains between physical or virtual service endpoints," the organization states in a strategy document shared with Light Reading by an industry source.

To that end, the MEF is focusing on:

  • Defining NaaS information models providing service, resource and technology abstraction.

  • Standardized NaaS definitions allowing for service differentiation.

  • NaaS orchestration requirements and functions.

  • NaaS APIs for applications such as self-service customer portals and OSSs to dynamically order, create, modify, suspend, or delete a service.

  • NaaS APIs to abstractly control network resources and functions within an operator's network such as Universal Network Interface (UNI) or External Network-to-Network Interface (ENNI) service endpoints and the virtual connectivity between them.

  • The MEF aims to define its NaaS APIs such that they can function using a variety of networking technologies and architectures.

The Third Network strategy from the MEF aims to rival the SDN specification efforts of multiple other organizations and groups, most particularly the Open Networking Foundation , which has achieved significant industry support and adoption for its OpenFlow protocol, and OpenDaylight, the open source group that has also attracted significant support. (See Brocade Debuts OpenDaylight SDN Controller, OIF, ONF List Vendors in Transport SDN Demo, Putting Your SDN Knowledge to the Test, HP Doubles Down on OpenDaylight, A New Ethernet Contender, Why OpenFlow Isn't Like Active Networking and OpenFlow Comes to Bat.)

Want to know more about SDN? Check out our dedicated SDN content channel here on Light Reading.

The MEF is hoping to exploit its relationships with carriers to give its NaaS plans an advantage over other vendor-driven efforts, Light Reading understands.

This represents something of a new direction for the MEF, whose carrier and vendor members are very largely orientated towards the definition and promotion of Carrier Ethernet standards. But times have changed, and with SDN and NFV now the hottest acronyms in town, the focus of the IP and Ethernet community now is how to adapt to the arrival of network virtualization in data centers and service provider networks as cloud services become the norm. In order to align "with an on demand, cloud-centric world ... network connectivity services must evolve," the MEF notes in its strategy paper.

While the MEF is just unveiling its SDN strategy, its members have long been embroiled in the shift towards programmable networks and virtualized functions. Indeed, the organization has two members that are currently focused on orchestration efforts -- Amartus and CENX Inc.

CENX, which boasts MEF President Nan Chen as its co-founder and executive vice-chairman, has just unveiled its service orchestration strategy in advance of the MEF's Third Network announcement. (See CENX Reinvents Itself as Service Orchestrator.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Dan Jones

Mobile Editor

Dan is to hats what Will.I.Am is to ridiculous eyewear. Fedora, trilby, tam-o-shanter -- all have graced the Jones pate during his career as the go-to purveyor of mobile essentials.

But hey, Dan is so much more than 4G maps and state-of-the-art headgear. Before joining the Light Reading team in 2002 he was an award-winning cult hit on Broadway (with four 'Toni' awards, two 'Emma' gongs and a 'Brian' to his name) with his one-man show, "Dan Sings the Show Tunes."

His perfectly crafted blogs, falling under the "Jonestown" banner, have been compared to the works of Chekhov. But only by Dan.

He lives in Brooklyn with cats.

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