A draft specification from the MEF aims to make it easier for enterprises to order software defined wide area network (SD-WAN) services that span multiple network operators and to enable service to be established in an automated manner. The MEF SD-WAN specification has 200 pages in which the organization defines an SD-WAN service and provides a data model for application programming interfaces  (APIs) that would enable network operators to interface systems with each other to support cross-operator SD-WAN offerings, explained Pascal Menezes, MEF chief technology officer, in a briefing with reporters at the MEF18 event in Los Angeles yesterday.

“This is about managed SD-WAN,” as opposed to SD-WAN technology that an enterprise would manage internally, said Menezes, who likened the state of SD-WAN today to the early days of carrier Ethernet. (The MEF, originally known as the Metro Ethernet Forum, has dropped that moniker because the organization’s scope has expanded over the years since its inception.)

According to Menezes, MEF is the “first organization to define a standard for SD-WAN” to certify and orchestrate service.

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MEF SD-WAN Specification
MEF is releasing the draft SD-WAN spec to the public for comment, with the goal of finalizing the spec in the first quarter of 2019. 

Developers at MEF18 will be working on creating APIs based on the SD-WAN draft spec, Menezes said. 

The industry “needs APIs to look at the overlay and underlay [networks] and correlate them,” he explained. 

A key concept of SD-WAN is to use intelligence and policy to enable multiple network connections to act as a single network, with traffic directed over one network or another based on policy, type of traffic and network conditions. 

Also on tap: an MEF SD-WAN certification program, targeted for second quarter 2019. That program would be similar to existing MEF certification programs, such as the Carrier Ethernet 2.0 certification program, and would certify equipment vendors as well as network operators, Menezes said.

Menezes cited a carrier survey that asked what services the carriers would like to see dynamically orchestrated across multiple carrier networks. SD-WAN was the top answer, he said.

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