MEF 70: A new standard for taking the confusion out of SD-WAN
by Paul Davenport Paul Davenport on

While SD-WAN has been trending in the enterprise IT space for a few years now, there’s been little official consensus on what these solutions should encompass, let alone what defines a “best-of-breed” SD-WAN. Sure, the label SD-WAN has been marketed publicly by many providers, but in lieu of a standard that defines what exactly these tools should deliver, customers may experience wildly different products depending on the providers they partner with.

Recently, however, MEF (Metro Ethernet Forum), an industry association of 200-plus industry partners that’s “dedicated to adoption of assured services orchestrated across a global ecosystem of automated networks” took moves to change all that with the publication of MEF 70.

This new industry standard looks to drive consensus around what customers can expect from solutions marketed as SD-WAN, and what providers should be aiming to deliver.

“MEF has defined the language and how a subscriber would specify and measure behavior for a service provider delivering managed SD-WAN,” MEF CTO Pascal Menezes told Light Reading. “It allows everybody to implement in their own ways, but yet it all has to behave the same way, which means we can measure that and certify that.”

From a more technical standpoint, the standard defines SD-WAN as an application-aware, over-the-top WAN connectivity service that coordinates multiple underlay networks, regardless of the technologies or service providers that make these networks up. The standard goes on to define rules for how network traffic is handled by the SD-WAN service, and other key technical concepts that feature benefits for an array of stakeholders: Customers know what they can expect from any SD-WAN service they partner with, while providers themselves know what standards they must meet to drive customer satisfaction.

Around since 2001, MEF has established standards for a wide array of technologies that enterprise IT rely on everyday, and is constantly working with it’s global network of partners to help identify emerging technologies like SD-WAN and to establish best practices that clear the air (and keep providers honest) about what specific services should entail.

While MEF 70 should clear the air regarding how we define SD-WAN, teams shouldn’t just assume that their SD-WAN is an all-encompassing solution to ensuring network performance. Like any service, be it Internet connectivity or performance management tools, providers need to be held to their service level agreements (SLAs), which requires comprehensive performance monitoring on the part of the enterprise IT.

Beyond ensuring SLAs, additional visibility is essential when deploying SD-WAN so that IT teams can get granular, hop-by-hop insights into the underlay networks that SD-WANs direct traffic over. This is critical so that potential performance issues aren’t masked by the SD-WAN, and teams can address potential hiccups before they impact end users.


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Filed Under: Industry Insights

Tags: network performance monitoring , network monitoring , enterprise networks , enterprise WAN , networking technology , industry standards , MEF , software define networking , WAN , SD WAN