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Spotlight Q&A – MEF Perspectives On CALA Service Market Trends

Kevin Vachon, COO, MEF and Andres Madero, Mexico & Central America Marketing Co-Chair, MEF and Director, Service Provider Architecture & Business Development, Infinera join TNN to discuss service market trends in the Caribbean and Latin America region.  Both of them recently participated in a MEF seminar in Mexico City on Dynamic Third Network Services for the Digital Economy and Hyper-Connected World attended by service provider and technology professionals based in CALA.

TNN Can you provide an overview of MEF activity in the CALA region?

Kevin Vachon: Kevin VachonCALA is strategically important to MEF’s mission to enable the creation of a global ecosystem of networks that will deliver more agile, assured, and orchestrated services that are optimized to meet the needs of the digital economy and hyper-connected world. These emerging services will transform the industry by providing an on-demand, cloud-centric experience with user and application-directed control over network resources and service capabilities.  

The transition to this new generation of services is a multi-year process, and a lot of work will need to take place across every region of the world. 

MEF started ramping our activity in CALA several years ago and has held four seminars in Mexico City, Rio, and Santiago over the past year to help accelerate the transition.  MEF now has 14 service provider and technology vendor members in CALA, including Embratel, Telum, Axtel, C&W Networks, Tigo, TIM, CNT, Internexa, Marcatel, Ufinet, MCM, Maxcom, Datacom, and Intraway.  We expect to add more soon.

TNN:  Where do you see CALA service providers, in general, along this journey to agile, assured, and orchestrated services?

Andres Madero Service providers in CALA will be moving through several steps as they transition to on-demand services that ultimately can be orchestrated across multiple providers. 

The first step is to create a foundational high-performance Carrier Ethernet connectivity fabric that supports future service innovation.  The region is making great strides in this area.  There has been a huge adoption of Carrier Ethernet in recent years, and more extensive adoption is planned.  Each service provider who has embraced Carrier Ethernet has recognized capital cost savings and been able to pass along benefits to customers.

More than half of MEF’s CALA service provider members now offer Carrier Ethernet 2.0 certified services.  CE 2.0 certification is a particularly important differentiator when it comes to selling wholesale E-Access services to international service providers who are looking to extend their service reach over the network footprints of regional partners. 

TNN: Can you elaborate on the next big steps on this journey for CALA providers?

Andres:  The next big steps relate to major work areas of MEF that we discussed in the seminar, so service providers will benefit by following this work and contributing where possible.  Let me walk through some examples. 

One of our key messages is that MEF is expanding beyond CE 2.0 to drive the development of standards-based orchestrated wavelength, CE, Layer 3 IP, and SD-WAN services.  MEF has been working on creating a standard set of attributes that can be used to define wavelength and managed IP services delivered over multiple interconnected provider networks. Standardized attributes consistent with those of globally adopted CE 2.0 services will allow service providers to leverage MEF’s Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) work to deliver a full range of orchestrated connectivity services. MEF also has begun work related to SD-WAN managed services and will be releasing a white paper and hosting a webinar on this topic in the near future.

Next, MEF is spearheading transformational initiatives to standardize LSO open APIs for orchestrating connectivity services across multiple provider networks and multiple technology domains within provider networks.We expect the first three inter-provider LSO APIs – related to address validation, service availability, and ordering – will be available in Release 1 of the LSO Sonata Software Development Kit (SDK) by August 2017.

Third, throughout 2017 MEF has been working on enhancing and expanding our popular service, technology, and professional certification programs to include new elements related to orchestrated services.

TNNCan you give some practical examples of how this work will impact CALA providers?  

Andres: Sure. We had two service provider panels in our seminar that focused on wholesale interoperability challenges and inter-provider service orchestration opportunities for service providers.  All of the regional service provider panelists agreed on the need to simply the process of buying services from each other, and they are looking to MEF to help them standardize this. Today, they are using manual processes with 4 or 5 pages of Excel spreadsheets with different questions.  They want to move away from this.

By embracing the first three LSO Sonata APIs for address validation, service availability, and ordering, MEF CALA members will be in a position to interoperate more efficiently not only with other regional players but also with a number of large international service providers who are leading development of the LSO API standards. This includes companies like AT&T, Orange, Colt, Level 3, Verizon, Sparkle, PCCW Global, and others.  

Kevin:  Regional seminars like the one in Mexico City are a win-win for MEF and member companies. We appreciate the opportunity to hear directly about the challenges and needs of regional players that can help feed into our standardization, certification, and marketing activity. And regional companies have the chance to gain important insight into leading-edge innovations tied to standards development that ultimately will shape the competitive environment in which they operate.