MEF SD-WAN Service Standard Now Publicly Available; ITU-T SD-WAN Work a Dead End?

MEF SD-WAN Service Attributes & Services Standard:
The new MEF spec defines a SD-WAN service and its various attributes – the first time any standards body or forum has done this.  MEF got involved in the SD-WAN interoperability a few years ago, as part of its MEF 3.0 Global Services Framework.  It hoped to bring some order to a space where every SD-WAN vendor was defining its product and services a differently with no accepted definition of what a SD-WAN was or any inter-operablity (no UNI or NNI).

After incorporating extensive feedback from service providers and technology vendor members, MEF is now moving the draft SD-WAN Service Attributes and Services standard (MEF 70) through the last phase of MEF membership and Board approval. The document is available for download here.

“MEF’s team of SD-WAN experts has worked overtime to develop a robust and timely industry standard following multiple rounds of in-depth peer review,” said Pascal Menezes, CTO, MEF. “We will officially publish MEF’s SD-WAN service standard by mid-July 2019, but we are making the final draft publicly available now because broad industry alignment on common terminology will be healthy for market growth.”

MEF’s SD-WAN service definition standard describes 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 who deliver them.

SD-WAN service relies on two or more network connections, directing traffic over one connection or the other based on pre-defined parameters, traffic levels and other variables. For example, a company might use an MPLS VPN and a direct internet connection, with mission-critical traffic routed over the MPLS connection, while less critical traffic travels over the internet connection.

MEF defines the SD-WAN UNI, or User to Network Interface, as the point of demarcation between the service provider network and the enterprise network, determining where each party’s functionality and responsibility ends. SD-WAN Edge defines the services available on the customer premises, which could be available through on-premises equipment or in the cloud. And the Underlying Connectivity Service, or UCS, is the underlay wide-area network, typically MPLS, LTE, cable broadband — likely in combination — and possibly from multiple vendors. Additionally, MEF defines the Tunnel Virtual Connection (TVC) as overlay tunnels that are built over the UCS, which provide interconnects between locations.

In summary, the MEF SD-WAN service standard introduces four relevant SD-WAN terms:

  • SD-WAN UNI (user-network interface)
  • SD-WAN Edge, where SD-WAN functionality is achieved, which could be a physical or virtual appliance such as a virtual network function in the cloud
  • Underlay connectivity service (UCS), which is the wide area network service such as MPLS or IP
  • Tunnel virtual connection (TVC), the connection created over the underlay network

SD-WAN Service Constructs:

MEF SD-WAN Service Constructs May 2019-2

Definitions:
SD-WAN Edge:  Physical or virtual
SD-WAN Controller: Centralized management of SD-WAN edges & gateways
Service Orchestrator: Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) of SD-WAN and other services
Subscriber Web Portal: Subscriber service ordering and modification
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Standardization will enable a wide range of ecosystem stakeholders to use the same terminology when buying, selling, assessing, deploying, and delivering SD-WAN services. The SD-WAN service definition is a foundational step for accelerating sales, market adoption, and certification of MEF 3.0 SD-WAN services orchestrated across a global ecosystem of service provider networks.

Next Steps for SD-WAN Service Standardization: 

MEF already has begun work on the next phase of SD-WAN standardization (MEF 70.1), which covers more complex service attributes related to application business importance and prioritization, underlay network characteristics, and connectivity to private/public cloud services consistent with market priorities for SD-WAN services. MEF also is progressing standards work focused on LSO (Lifecycle Service Orchestration) APIs, application security, and intent-based networking for SD-WAN services.

Pilot MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Service Certification:

MEF remains on track to launch its pilot MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Service Certification program in 2019. This certification 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. Service and technology companies interested in participating in the pilot should contact Alysia@mef.net

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Read more at:

https://www.mef.net/Press-Releases/MEF-Announces-Final-Draft-SD-WAN-Service-Standard-is-Publicly-Available

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ITU-T SD-WAN work item:

ITU-T has a SD-WAN work item under study, but as far as I can tell, there is no output yet.  The project is named Signalling Requirement for SD-WAN service.

Summary: SD-WAN is an ecosystem of hardware (including customer-premises equipment, such as edge devices), software (including controllers), and services that enables enterprise-grade WAN performance, reliability, and security in a variety of ways. This Recommendation specifies signalling requirements for SD-WAN service. The signalling is to support the dynamically set up and manage the enterprise WAN connections.

The three contacts for this work all are from China Mobile.  Following are highlights from an unapproved draft spec:

Introduction:

[ITU-T Editor’s note in September 2018] It is needed to provide the difference between two types of SD-WAN, one is provided by enterprise itself, the other one is provided by the carrier. This Recommendation address the latter. Contributions are invited.

  • The SD-WAN services could be provided by two types of providers. One type is the enterprise and the other is carrier. This Recommendation addresses the latter. The main differences between the two types are shown as below:Network performance monitoring and statistic collection: The enterprise launched service is only able to monitor the performance parameters of its own end-to-end path. While the carrier launched service is capable of monitoring not only the enterprise specific path but also the performance of the whole network. The over view of the network is more helpful for carrier to plan the end-to-end paths for thousands of enterprise as a whole.
  • Service provision: when the path need to be switched over, the enterprises only has the authority to configure the CPE. If they need to change the path in core network, they have to ask the carrier to do so. In contrast, the service which is launched by carrier can be quickly changed by saving the communication time between enterprise and carrier.

ITU-T References:

The following ITU-T Recommendations and other references contain provisions which, through reference in this text, constitute provisions of this Recommendation. At the time of publication, the editions indicated were valid. All Recommendations and other references are subject to revision; users of this Recommendation are therefore encouraged to investigate the possibility of applying the most recent edition of the Recommendations and other references listed below. A list of the currently valid ITU-T Recommendations is regularly published.

The reference to a document within this Recommendation does not give it, as a stand-alone document, the status of a Recommendation.

[ITU-T Q.3300] Recommendation ITU-T Q.3300 (2014), Framework of software-defined networking;

[ITU-T Y.3011]     Recommendation ITU-T Y.3011 (2012), Framework of network virtualization for future network.

AJW Comment:  It doesn’t appear that this work item has made much progress recently.

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AT&T exec: SD-WAN is “killer app” after MEF says they will define SD-WAN service

AT&T’s Josh Goodell at MEF 18 conference in LA:  “SD-WAN is the killer app — we’re deploying 28,000 end points, it has really exploded.”  Really?  We’re from Missouri= show me

Meanwhile, the MEF has definesd an SD-WAN service and its various attributes. With strong support from service provider and technology provider members, MEF currently is on track to ratify and publicly release its MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Service Attributes and Service Definition standard in 1Q 2019. SD-WAN service standardization will enable a wide range of ecosystem stakeholders to use the same terminology when buying, selling, assessing, deploying, and delivering SD-WAN services. The SD-WAN service definition is a foundational step for accelerating sales, market adoption, and certification of MEF 3.0 SD-WAN services orchestrated across a global ecosystem of automated networks.

SD-WAN Service Standardization
SD-WAN service standardization is being conducted within the context of the MEF 3.0 Global Services Framework. It is part of a transformational initiative to standardize a complete family of dynamic Carrier Ethernet (CE), IP, Optical Transport, SD-WAN, security, and other virtualized services that will be orchestrated over programmable networks using LSO (Lifecycle Service Orchestration) APIs.

MEF’s SD-WAN service definition specification describes requirements for an application-aware, over-the-top WAN connectivity service that uses policies to determine how application flows are forwarded over multiple underlay networks irrespective of the underlying technologies.

“MEF’s groundbreaking work in standardizing an SD-WAN service addresses one of the biggest obstacles impacting SD-WAN service market growth,” said Nan Chen, President, MEF. “In a recent joint MEF and Vertical Systems Group survey of service providers worldwide, nearly 80% of respondents identified the lack of an industry-standard service definition as a significant challenge for service providers to offer or migrate to SD-WAN services. MEF’s SD-WAN service standardization will undoubtedly accelerate sales of SD-WAN products and services like MEF accomplished with Carrier Ethernet service standardization.”

Just as the industry has benefited from MEF standardization of CE services – which now exceed an estimated $50 billion in annual revenues globally – there are numerous potential benefits associated with a common SD-WAN service definition. These include, among other things:

  • Reducing market confusion about service components, core capabilities, and related concepts, thus saving valuable time given the scarce availability of skilled personnel.
  • Enabling service providers and technology providers to focus on providing a core set of common capabilities and then building on that core resulting in differentiated offerings.
  • Facilitating inclusion of SD-WAN services in standardized LSO architectures, thereby advancing efforts to orchestrate MEF 3.0 SD-WAN services across multiple providers.
  • Paving the way for creation and implementation of SD-WAN services certification, which will give users confidence that a service meets a fundamental set of requirements.

SD-WAN Implementation 
MEF member companies are involved in multiple SD-WAN implementation-related initiatives that can be leveraged to provide feedback on standardization requirements and create software-oriented artifacts that can be used to accelerate efforts to orchestrate standardized SD-WAN services. These initiatives include the MEF 3.0 Multi-Vendor SD-WAN Implementation project, the MEF18 LSO Hackathon, and several SD-WAN Proof of Concept (PoC) demonstrations at MEF18.

The MEF18 LSO Hackathon is focused on developing and validating data models for SD-WAN services. This presents a unique opportunity for those involved in technical aspects of SD-WAN services and products to learn in a hands-on way about the latest SD-WAN service and LSO standardization work at MEF as well as the related API and YANG work at ONF and IETF.

Three MEF18 PoC demonstrations directly related to LSO-enabled orchestration of SD-WAN services include:

  • Zero Touch Services with Secure SD-WAN
  • Towards a Multi-Vendor Orchestrated SD-WAN – LSO-enabled Solution with Open Source Orchestrator and Container-based uCPEs
  • Instantiation and Delivery of SD-WAN over a Virtualized and Orchestrated Wholesale Carrier Ethernet Access Service.

MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Service Certification
MEF currently plans to introduce a pilot version of certification for MEF 3.0 SD-WAN services in the first half of 2019. This certification will test a set of service attributes and their behaviors defined in the upcoming SD-WAN standard and described in detail in the MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Service Certification Blueprint.

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