MEF takes on defining SD-WAN managed services

SD-WANs are still a new enough phenomenon that even the terminology used to talk about it isn’t fully agreed upon, and that’s before anyone gets to actually connecting networks. MEF is looking to address both issues with its LSO (Lifecycle Service Orchestration) Reference Architecture and Framework (MEF 55)

SD-WAN started with large multinational enterprises buying the technologies from vendors and implementing them themselves, MEF CTO Pascal Menezes told FierceTelecom. “But more and more we’re seeing SD-WAN being delivered by service providers in a managed offering. We’re focusing on that part.”

In contrast to enterprises, service providers have to scale and handle up to tens of million subscribers in a multi-tenant model, which translates into much greater operational complexity, Menezes explained. That might be difficult enough if they were starting from scratch, but they’re not; most service providers who want to offer SD-WAN are simultaneously modernizing their MPLS systems to operate under orchestration systems.

Doing that all at once? “We call that lifecycle service orchestration,” Menezes said. LSO is a newer element within the organization’s Third Network approach.

“So we’re defining a set of use cases, which are defined already, and we’re working on APIs to operate that at scale,” he said. The intent is to help service providers ensure consistency of performance, policy, and security of SD-WAN services orchestrated across multiple provider networks, leveraging the open LSO APIs that MEF is in the process of developing.

The work is being done through the MEF’s OpenCS (Open Connectivity Services) SD-WAN Project. The project is led by Riverbed and VeloCloud with contributions thus far from Amartus, Cox, Fujitsu Network Communications, GBI, Huawei, and Nokia/Nuage, MEF said, adding that Silver Peak and Versa Networks recently joined MEF to contribute to the SD-WAN work as well. 

Ralph Santitoro, MEF Distinguished Fellow, and Head of SDN/NFV Solutions Practice delivering SD-WAN managed services at Fujitsu, told Fierce that the organization is proposing standard ways to refer to:

  • the SD-WAN edge—the physical or virtual appliance
  • the controller
  • the orchestrator
  • the gateway (say between MPLS and SD-WAN)
  • the subscriber web portal

Santitoro helped write a new MEF white paper that describes that common terminology, describes the API development work, and explains the first six use cases the OpenCS group has agreed upon. The paper is called Understanding SD-WAN Managed Services: Service Components, MEF LSO Reference Architecture, and Use Cases.