MEF New Standards for SD-WAN Services; SASE Work Program

The Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) [1.] has published new SD-WAN standards that add critical enhancements, including new service capabilities for underlay connectivity, important application performance metrics, and security zones for service providers deploying SD-WAN managed services.

Note 1. The MEF is an industry forum empowering enterprises to transform digitally with standard services and APIs for network, cloud, and technology providers.  While initially focused on Carrier Ethernet, the MEF scope has broadened to encompass overlay services like SD-WAN.  The ITU-T does not have an active SD-WAN standardization program so the industry must look to the MEF for service definitions and standards for that subject.

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The new MEF standards include:

  • MEF 70.1 updates MEF 70, the industry’s first global SD-WAN standard, to include new service attributes for underlay connectivity services, new measurable performance metrics that provide visibility into an application’s performance within the provider network and across multiple service providers, and the infrastructure to support application-based security defined in MEF 88 (see below).
  • MEF 88, MEF’s first security standard, enhances an SD-WAN service to add security functions. These include defining threats, malware protections, security policy terminology and attributes, and describing what actions a policy should take in response to certain threats.
  • MEF 95 provides a unified policy framework for MEF’s SD-WAN (MEF 70.1), Network Slicing (MEF 84), and SASE (MEF W117) and Zero Trust (MEF W118) standards coming in 2022.

“We’re seeing a healthy uptick in SD-WAN deployments driven by work from anywhere, as more users are connecting to the cloud and cloud-based applications. We estimate the global SD-WAN service market will grow from $2.85B in 2020 to $14.5B in 2025 (CAGR of 38%),” said Roopa Honnachari, vice president of research & global program leader – network & edge services, Frost & Sullivan.

“MEF’s work in standardizing and certifying SD-WAN managed services is helping to drive that adoption, and we believe certified services and professionals will continue to play an important role in moving the market forward.”

“MEF develops standards and certifications to provide clarity and assurance and remove complexity for SD-WAN managed services.

The new standards define the service behavior and associated policy language needed to deliver high-performance, secure SD-WAN managed services,” said Pascal Menezes, CTO, MEF.

Source:  MEF

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“These standards, and the forthcoming SASE and Zero Trust standards, benefit both customers and providers—customers know what to expect when purchasing SD-WAN managed services from a provider, and providers have the tools needed to deliver secure SD-WAN services that drive customer satisfaction,” Pascal added.

Both service providers and vendors can attain certification for MEF’s SD-WAN standards in the MEF 3.0 SD-WAN certification program which validates compliance with MEF standards for delivering managed SD-WAN services and the underlying technology.  The objective is to eliminate market confusion, and enable faster SD-WAN market adoption.

In 2022, secure SD-WAN requirements will be added to the MEF 3.0 certification program. Currently, 17 companies have achieved MEF 3.0 SD-WAN certification. In addition, the MEF-SDCP Professional Certification training and certification provides an opportunity for the engineers, architects, product managers, and others deploying SD-WAN solutions to demonstrate their expertise in MEF 3.0 service standards.

  • Worldwide, there are over 700 MEF-SDCP professionals employed by more than 120 companies.
  • Over 60 service providers have either the Carrier Ethernet or SD-WAN certification within the MEF 3.0 framework, and a handful have both.
  • AT&T, Verizon, Comcast Business and Windstream are among the service providers with MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Certification.  Those companies also rank within the top five of Vertical Systems Group’s 2020 US Carrier Managed SD-WAN Leaderboard.

MEF SASE Work:

MEF will also be releasing SASE (MEF W117) and Zero Trust (MEF W118) standards in 2022. MEF started developing its secure access service edge (SASE) framework last fall to clarify the service attributes and definitions for SASE.

The SD WAN market has already become bogged down by different SASE definitions, which has led to confusion among enterprise customers and frustration for service providers.

MEF defines SASE as a “service connecting users (machine or human) with their applications in the cloud while providing connectivity performance and security assurance determined by policies set by the Subscriber.” The networking and security functions within a SASE service include routing, VPN, path selection, traffic shaping, firewall, threat prevention and more.

Yet finding one vendor that meets all those requirements, and delivers a SASE service that is simple to deploy, is proving challenging for service providers that want to provide SASE as a managed service to enterprise customers.

“The ideal is one vendor, right? That’s the ideal, we all agree with it. But at least for enterprise customers, we’d haven’t found a single vendor solution that meets their needs yet from a SASE perspective,” said Verizon’s Vincent Lee.

MEF Media Contact: Melissa Power [email protected]

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References:

MEF Introduces New Standards for High-Performance, Secure SD-WAN Services

https://www.mef.net/service-standards/overlay-services/sase/

https://www.lightreading.com/sd-wan/mef-adds-application-security-updates-to-sd-wan-standard/d/d-id/774205?