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MEF's new SD-WAN standard too low-level, according to analysts

MEF is making its SD-WAN standard available to members, with public availability expected in 2019. But analysts deem the specifications too low-level to effect change.

MEF this week released a draft version of its software-defined WAN technical specifications, along with software...

developer kits for its interoperability APIs. But some industry analysts said they consider the specs to be irrelevant.

The SD-WAN standard -- 3.0 SD-WAN Service Attributes and Service Definition -- is currently available only to MEF members, but the Los Angeles-based association expects to ratify and release the specification to the public in the first quarter of 2019.

MEF said in a statement its primary mission with the SD-WAN standard is to create common terminology for buying, selling, deploying and delivering SD-WAN services. The group claims a common language among users, service providers and vendors will help alleviate market confusion about which components and capabilities SD-WAN services should possess. Further, MEF said a collective framework can help "pave the way for SD-WAN services certification" to clarify which SD-WAN options meet the fundamental requirements.

With so many variations of SD-WAN deployment, common terminology could prove useful. But an SD-WAN standard, especially from an organization like MEF, is unlikely to stick in the industry, according to Lee Doyle, principal analyst at Doyle Research.

"You can argue it's nice to have," Doyle said. "But they're low-level standards for the interfaces."

Industry analyst and CIMI Corp. President Tom Nolle went a step further, saying "MEF is wasting their time" in issuing the specifications. "The specs are too low-level to actually impact interworking among implementations."

Service providers participating in the SD-WAN standard work include AT&T, CenturyLink, Comcast Business, Orange Business Services, Telia and Verizon.

MEF makes LSO Sonata API specs, SDK available

MEF also released the specifications and software developer kits (SDKs) for its Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) Sonata APIs. The APIs are available in a developer release for serviceability, product inventory, quoting and ordering, according to MEF.

The Sonata API specifications work within MEF's LSO Reference Architecture and Framework, which includes Carrier Ethernet, IP, SD-WAN, optical transport, security and other virtualized services. The Sonata API focuses on automating interprovider orchestration of various services within the architecture.

"The full suite of planned LSO Sonata APIs will deal with serviceability, product inventory, quoting, ordering, trouble ticketing, contracts and billing," MEF said. Each SDK -- available on GitHub -- includes an API developer guide, a Swagger data model and other essential building blocks.

MEF also said it is continuing to pursue certification for its Sonata APIs, a process that includes a pilot program for member testing.

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How might your organization benefit from a standardized SD-WAN specification?
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Who can tell more about MEF? Who are the principles? What qualifies as a member? Are standards good for emerging markets? I just wonder how this impacts the ability for game changing solutions to enter the market? The few that I saw as members, AT&T, Century Link, Verizon are not what I would think of as innovators in SD-WAN solutions. Just my 2cents! 
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MEF offers various types of paid membership, with service providers making up the majority of members.

Many service providers like AT&T, CenturyLink and Verizon have partnered with SD-WAN vendors to offer managed SD-WAN services to their own customers. They're involved in deploying and managing the technology, so they do have that insight into interoperability needs and customer requirements.

But the point you made about potential impact of standards is definitely valid. I think it will take some time before the industry settles on any, which ties in closely to the question of SD-WAN's maturity. While the technology and its capabilities might be considered mature, the interoperability aspect is obviously lacking.
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