MEF, ONAP develop pact for open network-based orchestrated services

MEF and the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP), a Linux Foundation project, have signed a memorandum of understanding to establish service orchestration for service providers interconnecting diverse networks and technologies.

This alliance is set on helping service providers, cloud providers, and enterprises provide on-demand services profitably and competitively, while maximizing existing investments.

What the two organizations bring to the table is a long roster of members. MEF and ONAP will leverage the resources of a combined set of 250 member companies to speed open source-based SDN/NFV and LSO (Lifecycle Service Orchestration) into the broader telecom and technology segments.

RELATED: MEF releases LSO Sonata, Presto software development kits, drives multiprovider Ethernet service orchestration

Under the terms of the agreement, MEF has become an associate member of ONAP and The Linux Foundation, and The Linux Foundation is now an auditing member of MEF. While this pact is new, ONAP and MEF are hardly strangers. The collaboration between MEF and ONAP builds on the work that MEF is already undertaking with The Linux Foundation’s OpenDaylight and Platform for Network Data Analytics (PNDA) projects. MEF and ONAP said more details on collaborative initiatives will be shared in coming months. 

MEF and ONAP see the opportunity to drive innovations in the broader open source community.

Specifically, the two organizations will focus on how to orchestrate services across multiple providers and multiple network technology domains. This includes establishing a framework for real-time, policy-driven software automation of virtual and physical network functions, while minimizing fragmentation and silos.

Daniel Bar-Lev, director of MEF's Office of the CTO, told FierceTelecom that working with the open source industry will enable it to better serve the service providers and vendor members.  

“We have been talking for a long time about MEF being a standards organization and how we’re going to interact with the open source community,” Bar-Lev said. “We need to help the open source community keep things consistent; otherwise we’ll create silos, which does not help anybody.”

Arpit Joshipura, general manager of networking and orchestration for The Linux Foundation, agreed that it is aligning its open networking initiatives with other forums like the MEF.

“ONAP will work closely with MEF to make sure the community gets one view of the LSO,” Joshipura said.

Driving LSO frameworks

A key focus of this collaboration is work on LSO within and between service provider networks to deliver Ethernet and other services.

MEF released two LSO software development kits (SDKs) that include standardized open APIs for orchestrating connectivity services across and within multiple service providers, breaking through the proprietary barriers to provision Ethernet across service providers.


These SDKs, which include LSO Sonata SDK and LSO Presto SDK, are part of a broader effort by the MEF to simplify the Ethernet ordering process. While MEF has been collaborating with open source projects like OpenDaylight, the work with ONAP represents a greater alignment of standards and open source efforts.

“We’re coming from the standards side and ONAP is coming from the implementation side,” Bar-Lev said. “We’re looking at this as a black box and what we’re trying to do is make sure the black boxes can align in the ecosystem with as little friction as possible.”

These efforts will be supported by LSO Hackathons at MEF17 and several MEF-hosted events in 2018 that will enable open source community developers and networking professionals to develop LSO-SDN-NFV-based solutions that can be used in open source projects and in development of MEF LSO API specifications.

“We’re coming up to our fifth LSO Hackathon and how to integrate the stuff coming out of ONAP and expose the industry to what’s coming out of ONAP,” Bar-Lev said.

API development and beyond

As part of the agreement, the organizations will jointly work on LSO Framework development and the creation of standardized open LSO APIs designed to automate the entire lifecycle for services orchestrated across multiple provider networks and multiple network technology domains.

The groups will create MEF reference point APIs in ONAP. On a longer-term basis, MEF will work on other issues including federated information modeling and creating reference point APIs in ONAP.

But API development is just one part of the partnership. The two groups will also work on creating reference points. One of these reference points will be LSO Legato. Legato will provide ONAP, which has been working an external APIs project, to create a northbound interface.

“If we can work together with ONAP ensure that we leverage the work of service configuration of LSO Legato it plugs into the OSS/BSS environment of each operator and provide that East/West LSO Sonata, we can create end-to-end services using federated LSO service orchestration,” Bar-Lev said.

Following the MEF 17 event in November, various MEF members are planning to have live substantiations as part of a test-bed environment called MEF Net.

Bar-Lev said the MEF Net is something the organization is “facilitating to create sandbox end to end services using the APIs at these different LSO reference points to show the industry how you use ONAP in these complex use case scenarios.”

ONAP may be the latest collaboration, but it won’t be the last for MEF in the open source community. The organization is also collaborating with OpenDaylight and PNDA.

“It’s not limited to ONAP, but ONAP is the upstanding example with all the traction it has,” Bar-Lev said.