MEF has come a long way from its Ethernet roots. The organization, which got its start in 2001, was initially created to develop standards for carrier Ethernet services. But it has since morphed into a software and specification development group intent upon creating revenue-generating services for its service provider members.
Speaking from this week’s MEF 2018 conference, President Nan Chen said that MEF’s key focus is to find services that have a “revenue impact.” And he noted that MEF’s executive leadership is changing to reflect that new strategy. In particular, he said that MEF’s service provider board members are no longer just technology experts, but they have profit and loss responsibility as well. Chen pointed to board members Kevin O’Toole, senior vice president for product management at Comcast Business Services and Roman Pacewicz, chief product officer at AT&T Business, as examples.
But not only is MEF’s focus shifting to revenue-generating products, the attendees at its annual conference are also changing. Chen said that the event, which takes place this week in Los Angeles, is attracting visitors from service provider IT organizations, network architects, and those involved in DevOps. “The companies are the same but the people are in different job functions,” Chen said.
MEF released the draft technical specification of its Sonata API, which is part of its Lifecycle Services Orchestration (LSO). According to Chen, the LSO Sonata APIs will make it possible to provide automation for MEF-defined services across service providers globally. Chen said that developers can download the software development kit and get a head start on delivering APIs for inter-carrier orchestration and MEF 3.0 services like carrier Ethernet, SD-WAN, and optical transport. “It’s really helpful to get feedback from developers,” Chen said, noting that while there will likely be some changes before the final specification is released, those changes will likely be minor.
Chen championed the progress of Sonata noting that this is the first time MEF has released software to the public. “In the past couple of years we have transformed from a pure standards organization to a software and specifications development organization.”
The organization also announced the formation of a new Enterprise Advisory Council that will support the MEF 3.0 ecosystem. Council members include executives from Bloomberg, DHL, Microsoft, Intuit, and PwC. Chen said that the advisory group members will provide feedback on what they want from LSO and their service providers. He said members were already providing their feedback informally but that by creating a more formal organization it plans to meet with the group quarterly and return that feedback back to its members.