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MEF launches SDN certification and specs for Presto APIs

MEF worked with The Linux Foundation and ETSI to develop an NFV and SDN certification to focus on related knowledge and skills. Meantime, MEF published specs for its Presto APIs.

MEF this week published specifications for its Presto APIs that enable communications between orchestrators and domain controllers. The industry association also announced the availability of a professional SDN certification, focusing on software-defined networking and network functions virtualization technologies.

The Presto APIs, formally dubbed MEF 60, are standardized interfaces that funnel activation requests coming to the orchestrator layer from business applications. Specifically, the interfaces provide the links necessary to allow communications between the orchestrator and the domain controllers, said Jack Pugaczewski, a distinguished architect at CenturyLink, who was involved in developing and editing the specs.

"It will then determine, 'OK, what domain controllers do I have to communicate with for an activation?' And then [it will] invoke the MEF 59 model and the MEF 60 APIs," Pugaczewski said. These controllers can be SDN controllers, network functions virtualization (NFV) orchestrators or traditional element management systems that control and manage network components.

The MEF 59 information model -- released along with the Presto API specs -- includes resources to support orchestration of Carrier Ethernet services through software-defined WAN controllers and other management systems.

"You're seeing more of where vendors are supplying multiple overlay and underlay technologies -- optical, Ethernet and, as you move up the stack, IP and SD-WAN," Pugaczewski said. As such, the first version of released Presto specs focuses on Ethernet services, with Optical Transport Network development in the works, he said.

CenturyLink, Ciena, Cisco, Ericcson, Huawei, Infinera, NEC and Nokia all contributed to the specs.The Presto APIs are one of many API sets MEF has defined in its Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) Reference Architecture. MEF previously released the software development kits for the LSO Presto and Sonata APIs. The industry association is now in the process of developing the APIs laid out in the framework, which includes experimental work on MEF APIs that support address validation, service availability and ordering between business applications, said Stan Hubbard, MEF's director of communications and research.

MEF launches professional NFV and SDN certification

MEF also announced this week the availability of its new professional NFV and SDN certification, which is part of MEF's broader networking certification framework. The Linux Foundation and European Telecommunication Standards Institute for NFV were also involved in developing the certification requirements, as were vendors such as Cisco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Juniper, among others.

"We knew MEF didn't own these specifications, but rather we collaborated with other groups," said Rick Bauer, MEF's director of certification. "We want the framework to reflect the best practices and knowledge domains from the groups we worked together with."

The NFV and SDN certification framework spans four levels: essential, professional, expert and master. The essential level of certification targets people outside network operations who might need to understand the networking concepts for sales or executive-level interactions, Bauer said. As the levels advance, the requirements grow more rigorous and focus on planning, deploying and managing SDN and NFV environments.

"We think there are a lot of people who want to know SDN and NFV at a professional operator level, so this frames the discussion of what kind of information and skills he or she should have," he said.

Areas of focus are SDN, NFV, Carrier Ethernet connectivity technologies, MEF's LSO and software-driven network technologies -- which examine use cases such as SD-WAN and SDN for deep packet inspection or perimeter security. The NFV and SDN certification is valid for three years, and MEF will evaluate to see whether specs have been deprecated or updated to ensure validity, Bauer said.

MEF is the latest organization to back an SDN certification program. Cisco and the Open Networking Foundation both offer certifications, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers offers a collection of SDN courses -- as do many universities and colleges.

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