MEF Introduces “THIRD Network” Vision

September 28, 2014

BobMEF announces a new THIRD Network vision that delivers Internet-like agility and ubiquity with CE 2.0-like performance and security. The THIRD Network vision is based upon Network as a Service (NaaS) principles, builds on CE 2.0 and provides a beacon for new MEF work already underway and planned. Examples of THIRD Network initiatives include Lifecycle Service Orchestration, new service definitions, dynamic service attributes, and agile API development.

“We are embarking on the next stage of a remarkable journey,” said Bob Metcalfe, Inventor of Ethernet, Advisory Director of the MEF, and Professor of Innovation at the University of Texas. “MEF is announcing a new network paradigm, a THIRD Network vision for Agile, Assured, and Orchestrated Network as a Service worldwide.”

To summarize the argument, businesses today are served by two types of modern data networks:

* Virtual Private Networks based on CE 2.0, using transport technologies such as MPLS, etc., delivering services with assured performance and security, but taking days if not months to initiate across multiple provider environments.

* The Internet, delivering on-demand, ubiquitous services but leaving users to deal with security and performance issues.

”We believe that the world needs a new network that builds upon the strengths of both the Internet and CE 2.0 and enhances them with end-to-end lifecycle service orchestration,” says Nan Chen, President of the MEF. “Combining the availability and agility of the Internet with the assurance in performance and security of CE 2.0 will allow us to create a network so flexible and robust that the network itself can be delivered as a customized virtual service – opening up unlimited possibilities for new business models and market growth.”

The THIRD Network will deliver Agile, Assured and Orchestrated Network as a Service worldwide, where:

* Agile means delivery of new, dynamic, on-demand services
*Assured means delivery of performance and security guarantees
*Orchestrated means delivery of automated services across multiple service providers – an escalating requirement driven by the rapid globalization of CE2.0 services.

The new THIRD Network is more than just a vision, according to Metcalfe, and work is already underway to bring “layered abstraction” to the WAN. “In computing, hardware is separated from operating systems and from applications, so each layer can innovate without impacting the others. In telecom operations, different systems are often in functional silos.” Metcalfe added, “Three major co-operative industry initiatives – NFV, SDN and Service Orchestration – are coming together to develop more responsive and adaptable solutions.”

NFV allows general purpose VMs for every network function, instead of vendor specific elements, while SDN is moving control functions into central controllers. But neither addresses directly the connectivity services that business or individuals actually purchase. This is where MEF provides a vital part of dynamic delivery and management of the new THIRD Network, a Network as a Service.

According to Andrew McFadzen, MEF Chairman and Head of Global Marketing, Network Services at Orange Business Services, “Initial work underway includes defining service lifecycle elements, extending information models and service attributes to be dynamic and protocol independent, and developing open-standards-based APIs. All the new capabilities leverage and build upon CE 2.0 as the services platform, to ensure an optimal migration strategy.”

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