MEF launches project to enable SD-WAN vendor interoperability

MEF sd-wan
Image credit: MEF

SD-WAN vendors are collaborating with MEF to use its new, standardized LSO Presto Network Resource Provisioning (NRP) API to address the rapidly growing problem of orchestrating services over multi-vendor SD-WAN deployments.

MEF member companies including Riverbed, VMware’s VeloCloud, Nokia’s Nuage Networks and software development services provider Amartus are participating in Phase 1 of the project, in which each vendor is implementing its own SD-WAN on MEFnet (MEF’s cloud-based Dev/Test platform) and then interconnecting them via a central gateway.

Each SD-WAN will be orchestrated with a single LSO-oriented service orchestrator using the LSO Presto API to create connectivity services that span two or more SD-WAN vendor solutions – thus bypassing the lack of interoperability between SD-WAN controllers and SD-WAN edge devices from different vendors.

“It’s a little surprising to me, but it turns out that a number of Tier-1 operators have discovered they have multiple vendors’ SD-WANs in their networks somewhere,” said Dan Pitt, senior VP of MEF. “They don’t want different orchestrators for each one – they want single policies to apply to everything. That’s what we are helping them do. This implementation project uses these LSO constructs to make it work.”

“Mergers and acquisitions by service providers and enterprises are increasing the number of environments using more than one SD-WAN vendor’s solution,” said Tim Van Herck, co-leader of the implementation project and director of technical product management at VMware. “It’s not uncommon to speak with service providers that already have three or more vendor solutions for SD-WAN in their networks. Single solution service orchestration in these types of environments is essential for the SD-WAN industry.”

The LSO-based approach assumes that each SD-WAN vendor enables the standard northbound LSO NRP API – defined in MEF 60 – on its SD-WAN controller products.

MEF notes that the Presto API already has been implemented in the OpenDaylight SDN controller, providing the vendors with a well-understood reference for porting the API to their respective SD-WAN controllers.

In Phase 2 of the implementation project, participants plan to add security functions that could allow the addition of SECaaS (Security-as-a-Service) to an SD-WAN service deployment.

Plans for future phases includes development of an intent-based Presto API, a VNF license management mechanism, and real-time LSO orchestration for media.

Meanwhile, in parallel to all this, MEF members are also working to develop an SD-WAN service spec that defines service components, their attributes, and application-centric QoS, security, as well as business priority policy requirements to create SD-WAN services.

“Everyone talks about SD-WAN, but they all talk different languages – what does it mean? How do we apply the LSO SDKs to it? That’s mainly down to the Presto interface,” said MEF’s Pitt.

Once completed, the spec should pave the way for MEF 3.0 work on LSO, MEF Information Models, Policy-Driven Orchestration, Intent, and other major projects to be applied to SD-WAN services.

MEF 3.0 advances four different ways

The SD-WAN project is one of four ways in which MEF is advancing its MEF 3.0 transformational global services framework introduced in November last year.

The other three include:

  • Subscriber IP Service Attributes Technical Specification (MEF 61): specifies a standard set of service attributes for describing Layer 3 IP VPNs and Internet access services offered to end-users, and will be used as a starting point for defining attributes for operator IP services
  • Managed Access E-Line Service Implementation Agreement (MEF 62): defines a new Carrier Ethernet service with a specific set of management and Class of Service (CoS) capabilities designed to accelerate service provisioning and to simplify management of services that traverse multiple operators
  • Layer 1 optical services: MEF says it is in the final phase of the review and approval process for a new specification that defines the attributes of a subscriber Layer 1 service for Ethernet and Fibre Channel client protocols (used in LAN and SAN extension for data center interconnect) as well as Sonet and SDH client protocols for legacy WAN services.

The latter spec addresses a key issue for Layer 1 services – differing terminologies and a lack of standardized service attribute definitions, which makes it difficult for subscribers to compare service offerings and hinders efficient interconnection and inter-provider orchestration of Layer 1 services.

MEF says work is underway on a companion spec defining Operator Layer 1 services between a UNI and an OTN ENNI (access) and between two OTN ENNIs (transit), which will provide the basis for streamlining interconnection of multi-domain Layer 1 services.

MEF members are also working on an implementation project designed to accelerate adoption of LSO APIs for orchestrating MEF-defined Layer 1 services.

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