Yesterday, the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) announced the availability of its Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) Reference Architecture & Framework. Sifting through the ponderous 56-page document, I found a lot of discussion about automation of network services that sounds similar to the work of a plethora of software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) open source groups.
So why do we need MEF to be doing similar work?
According to Michael Howard, a senior research director at IHS, MEF is catering to service providers that have Ethernet connections between buildings and that interconnect with other service providers.
MEF originally helped Metro Ethernet exchanges including CENX and has also focused on accelerating the adoption of carrier-class Ethernet networks and services. With its LSO work, it’s trying to help its service provider members that want to begin delivering services on demand but must deliver those services over interconnected networks.
“Almost every operator deals with other operators,” says Howard. “It’s one thing for AT&T to say, ‘I want my customer in Paris to have a connection.’ It’s another to say ‘I want bandwidth on demand.’ There was no notion of dynamism for the old Ethernet services. LSO is about how carriers can carry one operator’s end-to-end service across other operators’ networks.”
Howard says at an MEF meeting a year ago he conducted a private panel with representatives from Telecom Italia, CenturyLink, and Deutsche Telekom. Although he was skeptical at first, he became convinced that operators do want the LSO Framework. They need it because they want on-demand services, and they need their service-level agreements to work across multiple operators.
MEF is also trying to expand beyond its Ethernet roots, and it says LSO can apply to on-demand connectivity services for IP and MPLS connections, as well.
It recently hired Pascal Menezes as its first CTO as part of a move to expand its scope into Layer 3 IP service definitions.