One of the most exciting industry trends today is the paradigm shift to agile, assured, and orchestrated Third Network services that provide an on-demand experience with user-directed control over service capabilities and cloud connectivity. These new services are delivered over automated, virtualized, and interconnected networks that build upon a CE 2.0 (Carrier Ethernet 2.0) foundation and are powered by LSO (Lifecycle Service Orchestration), software-defined networking (SDN), and network functions virtualization (NFV).
MEF is spearheading the shift by expanding work beyond CE 2.0 services to include development of new orchestrated Layer 1-3 connectivity services (e.g., wavelength, CE, and IP) and orchestrated Layer 4-7 cloud services (e.g., NFV-based virtual security, etc.). These new services have true game-changing potential for innovation, competition, and revenue generation.
Broad Industry Support for Third Network Vision
Many leading service providers, technology vendors, open source projects, and standards organizations have warmly embraced the Third Network vision and are working closely with MEF to accelerate the transition. More than 120 sponsor and partner companies – including 26 service providers – supported last month’s MEF16 global networking event, which focused on advancing Third Network development.
Along these same lines, MEF recently announced the release of a groundbreaking new white paper – “An Industry Initiative For Third Generation Network and Services“ – spearheaded by MEF and co-authored by ON.Lab, ONOS, OPEN-O, OpenDaylight, ONF, OPNFV, and TM Forum. The paper explores business drivers for Third Network transformation, describes key attributes of the Third Network, explains the LSO-based framework for coordinating all of the moving parts to create Third Network services, and spotlights major work areas that require industry collaboration to ensure orchestrated services operate reliably across multi-operator networks. This is a big deal involving an unprecedented level of cooperation among open source projects and standards organizations (SDOs).
Transition to Third Network Services is Well Underway
The signs are unmistakable that industry activity associated with the transition to Third Network services is picking up pace in a big way.
Dozens of service providers participating in a recent MEF-Vertical Systems Group global survey said they currently are offering orchestrated, on-demand connectivity and NFV-based services or are planning to do so within three years. Many service provider respondents indicated that they expect dynamic services will have a notable impact on the approximately $50 billion carrier Ethernet services market, beginning as early as 2018.
During the recent MEF16 event, many senior experts from major service providers discussed the evolution of their service portfolios and plan to unleash innovation by automating and virtualizing networks with LSO, SDN, and NFV. This list includes AT&T, China Telecom, CenturyLink, Comcast, Deutsche Telekom, Level 3, Orange, PCCW Global, Sparkle, Tata, Telstra, Verizon, Zayo, and more.
Providers Want Standardized Open APIs
While Third Network progress thus far has involved dynamic services delivered over a single provider network, a large number of service and technology experts used MEF16 as an opportunity to voice support for the MEF-inspired vision of orchestrating services over multiple provider networks in addition to multiple technology domains within a provider network.
As Pascal Menezes, CTO, MEF summarized, “One of the great themes coming out of the event was that service providers were talking about development of standardized, open APIs that would allow them to orchestrate inter-provider services in a machine-like, automated way.”
Illustrating how the discussion around LSO has matured, Marc Halbfinger, CEO, PCCW Global challenged industry players to focus on creating LSO-related commercial interfaces for third network services that are orchestrated across multiple providers: “It is time, first and foremost, that physical networks assure that on-demand, software-based infrastructure can be transacted on a wholesale basis in order to give customers the breadth of every global network that may exist. And secondly, that the physical ecosystems also learn how to sensibly interconnect commercially with the cloud players to give the customer a singular experience….If we are able to create wholesale commercial settlements, it will open up network infrastructure to end users far more aggressively and will incent, perhaps, the advent of greater applications than can be developed over common networks.”
Third Network Development Requires Industry-wide Collaboration
There is widespread recognition among service and technology experts that enabling and assuring standardized Third Network services across multiple provider networks will require an extraordinary level of collaboration among industry players because of the complexities involved.
To tackle this challenge, MEF has launched new open initiatives and expanded existing open programs to maximize collaboration among MEF members, open source projects, and other SDOs. Open initiatives include the UNITE collaboration program, LSO Hackathons, OpenLSO (Open Lifecycle Service Orchestration) and OpenCS (Open Connectivity Services) reference implementations, and the MEFnet compute-storage-networking platform on which OpenLSO and OpenCS projects are implemented.
The new Third Network industry white paper is illustrative of UNITE program work.
MEF invites you to join us in this exciting journey to reshape the communications landscape.