The Metro Ethernet Forum has already been behind two of the industry’s cooperative efforts to redesign how internet infrastructure works in the past 13 years of work on Ethernet. But if you thought the next one would simply be called Carrier Ethernet 3.0, you were probably thinking too small. Yesterday the MEF launched its Third Network vision, which will take them deep into the Network-as-a-Service world.
The words of the day are ‘agile’, ‘assured’ and ‘orchestrated’, which is what the MEF envisions happening when you combine Carrier Ethernet with the world of virtualization and software defined networks. That means on-demand, automated, secure services. And while SDN and NFV are more about making the internals of the network scalable and programmable, the MEF intends to focus on the side consuming those network services – enterprises and individuals.
There’s a lot of overlap in vocabulary here, and just where boundary lies between the MEF’s new vision and the other groups out there standardizing SDN and NFV isn’t completely clear. But at its core it’s the same idea: to take Ethernet and upgrade it yet again to better fit with what the latest generation of networks has become or is becoming. Virtualization and programmable networks were just abstract concepts the last time around, and there’s a lot more to work with now.
Of course, to an extent this can be simply seen as a wrapper around the many initiatives the MEF has been working on already that are beyond the CE2.0 specification. We’ll surely get more clarity on the various pieces of the new standards when the MEF’s GEN14 conference in November kicks off.
Meanwhile, CENX, which was originally founded by the MEF’s Nan Chen and has been moving deeper into network orchestration software, is already on the bandwagon. They’re already working with Accedian, JDSU, and EXFO on a new ecosystem for product interoperability. But I’m rather curious what the big vendors will think of all this.
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