MEF pushes out final draft of SD-WAN services standard

MEF has put the finishing touches on its SD-WAN services standard, and expects to have it published in mid-July. MEF first announced its MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Service Attributes and Service Definition Standard project at the MEF 18 conference last fall.

Similar to what MEF did with Carrier Ethernet, the standard defines a common terminology and the various attributes for an SD-WAN service.

In short, the SD-WAN service standard describes SD-WAN as a service instead of defining the technologies that make up SD-WAN. With more than 60 SD-WAN vendors, the SD-WAN service standard seeks to induce some commonality between buyers and sellers.

"There are many technologies used to make up an SDN service," said MEF CTO Pascal Menezes.  "What we're doing is we're organizing, how to buy a service from a service provider. That way you'll know what you're getting in the service because you're using a standard terminology."

Menezes said MEF's board is expected to approve the SD-WAN standard in July, but it was making the final draft available today because "broad industry alignment on common terminology will be healthy for market growth," according to a statement.

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MEF’s SD-WAN service definition standard describes "the requirements for an application-aware, over-the-top WAN connectivity service that uses policies to determine how application flows are directed over multiple underlay networks irrespective of the underlay technologies or service providers that deliver them," according to the press release.

While some SD-WAN providers and vendors aren't interested in MEF's SD-WAN service standard, Menezes said having it in place provides a framework for measuring what an SD-WAN service should entail, which provides assurance for the buyers.  At some point, MEF will provide branding for the SD-WAN services that comply with its standard.

The common terminology for the standard includes four key elements, according to Ralph Santitoro, head of SDN/NFV/SD-WAN solutions, Fujitsu Network Communications and a MEF Distinguished Fellow:

• The SD-WAN user interface to network interface defines the demarcation point between the subscriber who's buying the service and the provider who's selling the service.

• SD-WAN edge, which is the functional block that delivers most of the SD-WAN service, including creating tunnels, doing traffic management and applying the policies across both physical appliances (CPE) or virtual clients (VNFs) that run on white box CPE or in a cloud.

• Underlay connectivity service (UCS), which is the various types of services, such as LTE or broadband, that deliver the underlaying WAN.

• Tunnel virtual connections (TVC), which are the overlay tunnels that run over UCS in the over-the-top SD-WAN service. 

The SD-WAN Service Attributes and Services standard (MEF 70) is part of the MEF 3.0 framework that also includes standardized services, LSO (Lifecycle Service Orchestration) APIs, services, technology and professional certification, proof of concept demonstrations and other community activities.

MEF is working on the next phase of SD-WAN standardization (MEF 70.1) that will cover more complex service attributes related to application business importance and prioritization, underlay network characteristics and connectivity to private/public cloud services. MEF also is progressing standards work around its LSO, APIs, application security, and intent-based networking for SD-WAN services.

The group expects to launch its pilot MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Service Certification program this year. The certification program will test a set of service attributes and their behaviors defined in the SD-WAN standard and described in detail in the upcoming MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Service Certification Blueprint.  MEF is also adding SD-WAN content to its MEF-SDN/NFV Certified Professional (MEF-SDN/NFV) exam and related training programs.