In the current digital landscape, network resiliency and availability is obviously important in meeting the growing demands of customers. However, one of the biggest problems facing network service providers isn’t inadequate technology, but deficiencies in these technologies “playing nice.” As such, consortiums like MEF (Metro Ethernet Forum) exist to help carriers and their support teams to adapt around the rapidly changing world of network operations.
Recently, INOC attended the MEF18 event in Los Angeles along with hundreds of other companies to learn and understand the recent and upcoming trends in the network services industry. Service providers, OEMs, and thought leaders from across the globe convened to share insights on emerging technologies in the realm of SD-WAN, SDN and NFV, among other hot topics.
MEF is an international organization that plays a major role in leveraging collaboration to define standards and specifications for network operations. Annual MEF events summon telecommunication providers, ISPS, and other technology affiliations to educate businesses of all sizes and disciplines on developing practices and technologies that will be critical to remain competitive in the market space. Most importantly, the MEF framework enables businesses to continue providing high levels of service to consumers.
KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM MEF 18
1. Reflection on MEF 3.0 Framework
Since its release in 2017, the MEF 3.0 Global Services Framework has given providers the ability to deliver orchestrated communication services. Historically, MEF has played a pivotal role in setting the groundwork for defining best-practices in networking. Like other technologies, MEF 3.0 has taken time to build momentum but this year, we’re seeing many of the barriers that inhibited implementation for companies being eliminated.
Carriers adopting the LSO architecture can see a vast improvement in agile deployments that coincide with top-to-bottom environments. Before now, more-formal definitions for specifications of this practice designed to coordinate long-term management across multiple domains were missing. Recent efforts have addressed these challenges which seem to be the “A-ha!” many in the industry had been seeking.
Best of all, APIs in this toolset provide enhanced capabilities for all variations of SDN and NFV which has led to some remarkable advancements - perhaps the most recognizable example is found in the demonstration and application of 5G networks. By adopting practices outlined in this valuable resource, it has enabled providers extraordinary capabilities in deploying this service in select areas around the world.
2. Update to SONATA
In 2016, the prototype for SONATA was first launched, followed in 2017 by the release of a fully-functioning pilot version. The primary goal of SONATA is to provide an interface at the carrier level for SDN and NFV processes that will streamline operations including the facilitation of complex SD-WAN operations between providers. Ultimately, this will simplify connecting networked services across the globe.
At the event, it was announced that the draft specifications, as well as the SDK (Software Development Kit), are now available. The hopes are that the feedback from the developer community will be incorporated in early (i.e. Q1) 2019 to finalize components of the system, at which point it can be effectively utilized on a global scale.
3. Addressing Meaningful Operation
One of the challenges we at INOC typically focus on is a lack of meaningful operations metrics, which is described in our whitepaper, Top 10 Challenges to Running a Successful NOC – and How to Overcome Them. Big data is incredibly useful, but only when it is properly applied.
Several presenters touched on this topic and the inefficiencies it creates. Adjusting every process is a tedious and often unnecessary undertaking – instead, teams need to focus on meaningful improvements rather than spread themselves thin or “over engineer” a solution to problems we know are a byproduct from not observing a more collaborative approach in the first place. By design, MEF 3.0 solves inefficiencies that are responsible for operational “hiccups” that can stifle even highly-experienced support engineers.
4. Developing People to Drive Collaboration
The adoption of new technologies requires an adaptable approach in order to support the dynamic complexities with multiple vendors within the environment. This is adequately captured by the MEF 3.0 framework which demands competition to cooperate for the benefit of consumers.
From a network operation perspective, this is a breath of fresh air as one of the biggest issues plaguing the industry has been misaligned technologies that impedes interconnectivity between services from different carriers. Perhaps the biggest indicator is found in this year’s MEF18 Proof of Concept Showcase where several companies walked away with accolades for delivering services in accordance with MEF 3.0 framework. This advent reflects a practical merger of the current MEF standards and the ITIL framework, enabling companies to drive technology initiatives as vendor neutrality alleviates the hurdles of interoperability.
Final Thoughts on MEF18
It is very promising to see a more cohesive digital ecosystem, and MEF undoubtedly plays a significant role in making this possible. At INOC, we have in-depth experience supporting next-generation technologies that allow companies to succeed in providing cutting-edge services to customers. We are fully supportive of the MEF 3.0 framework and are dedicated to applying these principles to deliver the highest quality of service possible. Get in touch with us at +1 (877) NOC-24X7 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how INOC can support your network operations.