Industry group pushes SD-WAN standard, releases white paper

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LOS ANGELES – Industry group MEF (Metro Ethernet Forum) is pushing SD-WAN (software-defined software-defined networking in a wide area network) to make it the dominant architecture in the networking industry.

SD-WAN simplifies the management and operation of a WAN by decoupling or separating the networking hardware from its control mechanism.

At the MEF 19 conference being held here, MEF released a new MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Services white paper exploring the definition of a standardized managed SD-WAN service, use cases, service requirements for various industry verticals, and an overview of MEF’s expanding SD-WAN-related initiatives.

As the white paper states, the SD-WAN market is one of the fastest growing sectors in the communications industry. IDC estimates the global SD-WAN infrastructure market will reach $5.3 billion by 2023, while Vertical Systems Group estimates the US SD-WAN managed services market will grow to $4.5 billion by 2023.

In August, MEF published the industry’s first global SD-WAN standard, SD-WAN Service Attributes and Services (MEF 70), to help accelerate market growth. It describes requirements for an application-aware, over-the-top WAN connectivity service that uses policies to determine how application flows are directed over multiple underlay networks.

“MEF standardization creates an open marketplace and reduces confusion in a new market that is experiencing very rapid growth,” said Daniel Bar-Lev, VP for strategic programs at MEF.

At the same time, MEF announced the MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Certification Program, with Spirent Communications as the SD-WAN Authorized Certification and Test Partner (ACTP) to collaboratively develop and execute on the program. SD-WAN Certification is being conducted within the context of the MEF 3.0 Global Services Framework .

MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Certification enables service and technology providers to validate that their SD-WAN services and products conform to the recently published SD-WAN Service Attributes and Services (MEF 70) standard.

The certification will test the service attributes and their behaviors defined in MEF 70 and described in detail in the upcoming MEF SD-WAN Certification Test Requirements (MEF 90) standard. Demonstration of conformity with the industry’s first SD-WAN services standard is a valuable reference baseline for users choosing a service supplier in the inevitable confusion of a fast-growing new market.

MEF and Spirent have already begun working with an initial group of 7 service providers and technology vendors selected to participate in the MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Certification Pilot Program. The first certified companies are expected to be announced in Q1 2020.

“There are expansive opportunities in the SD-WAN market, with tens of billions of dollars in revenue at stake during the next five years, and many service providers are looking to quickly develop and advance their SD-WAN offerings to ensure they remain competitive,” said Nan Chen, president of MEF.

Recent research findings from Heavy Reading indicate that 76% of surveyed service provider professionals worldwide believe that SD-WAN services certification is “critical” or “important” for accelerating SD-WAN market growth. Seventy-three percent of this same group indicated that they believe SD-WAN technology certification is also critical or important for market growth.

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