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MEF Introduces 'Third Network' Vision

MEF is developing lifecycle service orchestration and APIs that encompass NFV and SDN to enable Network-as-a-Service.

September 25, 2014

3 Min Read

QUINTO DO LAGO, Portugal -- MEF announces a new Third Network vision that delivers Internet-like agility and ubiquity with CE 2.0-like performance and security. The Third Network vision is based upon Network as a Service (NaaS) principles, builds upon the MEF’s extensive body of CE 2.0 work and provides a beacon for new MEF work already underway and planned. Third Network initiatives include Service Orchestration functions, APIs, a protocol independent NaaS Information Model and Service Definitions, all of which are supporting agile, assured and orchestrated Network as a Service between physical and virtual service endpoints.

“We are embarking on the next stage of a remarkable journey,” said Bob Metcalfe, Inventor of Ethernet, Advisory Director of the MEF, and Professor of Innovation at the University of Texas. “MEF is announcing a new network paradigm, a Third Network vision for Agile, Assured, and Orchestrated Network as a Service that is available worldwide.”

To summarize the challenges, businesses today are served by two types of modern data networks:

  • Private and Virtual Private Networks based on CE 2.0, using transport technologies such as Ethernet, MPLS and OTN, delivering services with assured performance and security, but taking days if not months to initiate across network operator domains.

    • The Internet, delivering on-demand, ubiquitous services but leaving users to deal with security and performance issues.

      ”We believe that the world needs a new network that builds upon the strengths of both the Internet and CE 2.0 and enhances them with intra and inter-operator lifecycle Service Orchestration,” says Nan Chen, President of the MEF. “Combining the availability and agility of the Internet with the assurance in performance and security of CE 2.0 will allow us to create a network so flexible and robust that the network itself can be delivered as a customized virtual service – opening up unlimited possibilities for new business models and market growth.”

      The Third Network – to be developed in strong collaboration with other SDOs in the SDN/NFV area – will deliver Agile, Assured and Orchestrated Network as a Service worldwide, where: • Agile means delivery of new, dynamic, on-demand services • Assured means delivery of performance and security assurances • Orchestrated means automating service lifecycle management within and across network operator domains.

      The new Third Network is more than just a vision, according to Metcalfe, and work is already underway to develop standardized APIs to provide the abstraction of the different technology layers. “In cloud services, specific hardware and technology layers are abstracted from software applications, so each layer can innovate without impacting these applications. In telecom operations, different systems are often in functional silos.” Metcalfe added, “Three major co-operative industry initiatives – NFV, SDN and MEF NaaS with Lifecycle Service Orchestration – are coming together to develop more responsive and adaptable solutions.”

      NFV uses general purpose VMs for network functions, instead of proprietary implementations, while SDN is moving network control functions into central controllers. “But neither directly addresses the network connectivity services that business or individuals actually purchase,” said Andrew McFadzen, MEF Chairman and Head of Global Marketing, Network Services at Orange Business Services. “This is where the MEF provides a vital part of dynamic delivery and management of the new Third Network via NaaS with Lifecycle Service Orchestration.”


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