MEF recently announced that Nuage Networks from Nokia was one of the first technology vendors certified to support MEF 3.0 SD-WAN services. This certification enables technology vendors to validate the conformance of their products and services against the industry-leading SD-WAN Service Attributes and Services (MEF 70) global standard. It also enables enterprise buyers to identify whether the SD-WAN product or service that they are considering conforms to these industry-standard attributes or carries the risk of non-conformance and proprietary lock-in.
This announcement was particularly satisfying as it further exemplifies Nuage Network’s leadership in enabling SD-WAN services. Today Nuage Networks has grown into a technology leader whose technology empowers over 70 communication service providers (CSPs) worldwide to deliver premium SD-WAN services.
MEF 3.0 and the MEF 70 standard
MEF has been working with many of the world’s leading service and technology providers, open source projects, standards associations, and enterprises to realize a shared vision of dynamic services orchestrated across automated networks. The MEF 3.0 is a realization of this collaboration representing a transformational global services framework for defining, delivering, and certifying assured communications services orchestrated across a global ecosystem of automated networks.
The MEF 3.0 SD-WAN certification tests the service attributes and requirements defined in the MEF 70 standard. Customers who purchase MEF 3.0 certified solutions will now have greater confidence that they have deployed an SD-WAN service that meets the highest levels of performance established by MEF – the world’s defining authority for standardized network services. Nuage Networks is an active member of MEF and was instrumental in contributing to this standard.
The MEF 70 standard defines the externally-visible behavior of SD-WAN Services and defines a common set of terminology and attributes for an SD-WAN service. MEF 70 standard places a focus on how application traffic is handled while establishing definitions for the SD-WAN service and the SD-WAN service components in the context of both the provider and subscriber of the service.
MEF 70 standard describes SD-WAN as a service instead of detailing the underlying protocol level implementations and seeks to establish a common framework and language between providers and subscribers of the service. MEF 70 standard’s “service behavior” approach allows for flexibility of implementation within the vendor community.
The importance of standardization in a fluid vendor community
Despite SD-WAN approaching mass market adoption, the existing SD-WAN vendor market is still both very fluid and very large with over 70 vendors. Within the vendor community there are different approaches in delivering SD-WAN services from companies with widely different backgrounds. There are four major groups of vendors:
- legacy enterprise vendors who use their incumbency to pivot from their core competency (e.g. WAN optimization, security, routing, etc.) while bolting on some SD-WAN capabilities.
- large enterprise-focused conglomerates who upsell SD-WAN to their large customer base often involving locking the customer into proprietary hardware.
- smaller pure play SD-WAN vendors that have depended upon venture capital, who have either been acquired by a larger conglomerate already, are looking for a suitor, or are exploring different selling channels by partnering with other players in the space.
- Cloud-based vendors offering a set of prescribed SD-WAN capabilities all hosted in the cloud.
With this degree of choice and range of SD-WAN service options it is important that the market adopts a global standard with an associated certification program. Having a standard delivered from a respected and proven body like MEF will provide an agreed upon framework that defines SD-WAN service performance and behavior now and into the future. This standard also equips CSPs and enterprises with an objective metric that can be used to cut through the noise to identify SD-WAN vendors whose technology has been certified to deliver a set of prescribed and expected results.
Through this fluid and crowded SD-WAN market it is essential that standardization is adopted to drive consistency of behavior and operation as the SD-WAN market matures and evolves. MEF 3.0 certification is a needed step allowing the vendor and service provider communities to collaborate to standardize and ratify this technology. As one of the industry pioneers in SDN and SD-WAN, Nuage Networks is committed to innovation and driving advanced networking technology and will always strive be at the forefront and a key contributor to standards as important as MEF 3.0 and MEF 70.