The rapid increase in high-bandwidth, high-performance point-to-point connectivity services has led to an urgent need for standardization. That’s why the MEF has stepped up to fill the gap and enable communication service providers to make full use of orchestrated and automated transport services. 

With its new standards for multi-domain Layer 1 services and its expanded Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) framework with support for automated service ordering and configuration, the MEF has become the first official body to define optical transport services and enable CSPs to leverage the faster time-to-revenue and lower operating costs of MEF 3.0.

Setting new standards

Since 2016, I’ve been working on behalf of ADVA as a member of MEF, helping to design and promote new standards for the telecoms industry. It‘s taken a lot of work and collaboration by MEF member editors and contributors over the past few years to get to this point.

Most recently, we’ve put together a white paper that recaps a set of common standards for optical transport services that were recently ratified by MEF and also serves to highlight the value of orchestration of these services that MEF is now working on defining.

The orchestrated future

Why do parameters for Layer 1 connectivity services need to be universally agreed upon in order to make orchestration possible? It’s because autonomous networks have to communicate with each other to optimize and deliver multi-operator service provisioning in real time. And that means the industry must adopt a common framework to make certain that inter-network orchestration is seamless. It has to be apples to apples, never apples to mangoes!

So let’s get into the detail of the MEF white paper. In it, we’ve laid out business opportunities and economic forecasts for the optical wavelength services market (spoiler: it’s set to expand by billions of dollars over just the next few years) and discussed the MEF’s efforts towards standardizing optical transport services – the framework that will help make all this growth possible.  

Standardization 

In the paper, we focus on three recently completed MEF standards: MEF 63, 64, and 72. MEF 63 relates to Layer 1 services for the subscriber and 64 for the operator. MEF 63 deals with subscriber UNI to UNI Layer 1 service attributes, while 64 deals with operator UNI-to-ENNI and ENNI-to-ENNI Layer 1 service attributes and services. MEF 72 is a network resource model for subscriber Layer 1 – information models currently being defined. Right now, work is taking place to finalize the other standards for the application program interfaces (API) – what we refer to as MEF LSO APIs. These are the standards that will eventually allow for large-scale, multi-operator orchestration to take place.

Key benefits

Standardization gives us a common language. In the paper, we note that subscribers to a Layer 1 service often find it difficult to compare what providers are offering. It’s hard to be fully informed on what network configurations would work best and this is because providers (and subscribers for that matter) all currently use differing terminology to talk about the same things – a little like speaking one language in different dialects. Communication isn’t impossible by any stretch, but it’s difficult. By making sure everyone has access to the same standards and the terminology to describe those standards, you remove a lot of friction in terms of how things are communicated and understood. 

Standardization enables improved customer responsiveness, faster service activation, and modification of the network becomes a lot easier too. The list of benefits goes on, translating into lower costs and increased margins. 

With the increasing migration to cloud-based applications and services, MEF 63 and 64 and the MEF’s LSO framework will be key to CSPs’ digital transformation strategies. At ADVA, we’ll continue to contribute, enabling our customers to enhance existing services and roll out new optical transport products.

Read the full MEF white paper on Orchestrated MEF 3.0 Optical Transport for more.