MEF 2018: 4 Key Takeaways From This Year’s Conference
The roles and definitions for standards, edge computing, NFV and service assurance are changing alongside a transforming market.
Hundreds of service providers and technology vendors gathered in Los Angeles at this year’s MEF conference, with content highlighting the importance of MEF 3.0. This year’s mission statement continued the push to accelerate the worldwide adoption of assured services across automated networks. Here are four of our takeaways from the event.
1. Led by Standards, SDN is Having a Generational Moment
The communications industry has unlocked the future of broadband, as software-defined networks enable gigabit levels. Ten years ago, 1 Mbps cost $400. Today, network providers can offer 1 Gbps for just $500. But with scale comes a greater need to support simplicity.
As CPE shifts from complex boxes with dedicated hardware/software to more open and simplistic platforms, the ability to improve downstream services will become easier. This becomes a substantial driver for next-generation enterprise services that can be made more widely available, can be launched more quickly and can facilitate the orchestration of services more consistently. All of this will be facilitated using MEF 3.0, which creates a greater focus on standards that enable the faster end-to-end automation of services through LSO Sonata. The end goal should be to transform, federate, certify faster and work together better as an industry.
2. Take it to the Edge
As networks digitalize, the foundational technology shifts at the edge are creating more data. With such high volumes of data creation and the power to use data at the edge, the holistic picture of what the cloud is will change, meaning it won’t be a centralized place for long. Critical network functions are being pushed to the edge, which reduces latency for service delivery and efficiency.
3. NFV is Short-Lived and Will be Taken Over by NFC
While hype for network function virtualization (NFV) is all the rage, it will soon be overtaken by the push towards a broader view of network function cloudification. Numerous speakers at MEF18 commented that current VNF approaches use more traditional software code, which maps to the traditional development of dedicated functionality embedded in hardware. As network and VNF providers and partners advance this decoupling, it marks a mere stepping stone, as services may have been “cloud-enabled” but they still tend to be tied to specific physical network functions. The move to true NFC will change that.
Network providers should be ready to deliver network functions that are designed as microservices at the core. This will create greater resilience, thanks to the microservices architecture, and will reduce time-to-market, enable faster problem management support and self-healing.
4. Service Assurance is Critical for Successful vCPE or uCPE Deployment
With digital services delivered via software-defined networking (SDN), the need to gain visibility into data consistency and quality will be an essential part of delivering services to end-points that are designed to be easily updated from the cloud. As virtual CPE (vCPE) or universal CPE (uCPE) replaces dedicated physical network-centric devices, network providers need to integrate new levels of data correlation, streaming data analytics for on-demand troubleshooting or “on-all-the-time” functionality for 24X7 SLA requirements. The reasons for this is that when a VNF faults or fails completely, the loss of delivery means the loss of services, and network providers need to determine the best course of action to correct it. This means the move away from physical probes that performed tasks like deep packet inspection or service quality management to software-based diagnostic tools that can perform similar tasks in new virtual environments. With physical appliances, the provider needed to tap into the box itself. For VNFs, network providers can simply tap into the service delivery chain.