Network Operators, It’s Time to Embrace the ‘Third Network’

Business People Meeting Discussion Working Office ConceptNetwork operators today are face a great deal of pressure to deliver on demand, SLA-backed, self-service offerings over interconnected data communications networks. To accomplish this, many are turning to a cutting-edge solution, which MEF, the global defining body for Carrier Ethernet (CE), refers to as the “Third Network.”

So what exactly is the Third Network?

The Third Network is a framework built on Network as a Service principles that combine the security assurance of CE 2.0 with the on-demand availability and agility of the Internet. The Third Network can enable a high level of network control for network connectivity services and emerging SDN and NFV solutions, as well as cloud-centric applications. It can also enable virtual and physical endpoints to connect to virtual network functions and virtual machines.

To accelerate the industry transition to Third Network services, MEF created Open Initiatives, which contains reference implementations for the Open Lifecycle Service Orchestration (OpenLSO) and Open Connectivity Services (OpenCS) ecosystems. MEF is also working with prominent open source projects and member communities to align market implementations with MEF’s published and emerging LSO and connectivity service specifications.

OpenLSO projects are based on fulfillment and other orchestration capabilities. The goal of OpenLSO is to promote LSO specifications and develop open, standardized APIs.

Leading the OpenLSO Service Fulfillment project is ECI, a global provider of ELASTIC Network solutions. ECI brings to the table the open source Innovation Platform (EPIC), which will make OpenLSO Service Fulfillment interoperable with global service providers. EPIC is a centralized platform for configuring and monitoring network functions. Network operators can use EPIC to automate and fulfill complex services across SDN, NFV, legacy and cloud environments.

ECI recently demonstrated EPIC’s capabilities at the MEF annual members meeting in Boston. For the first time, ECI showed how open LSO APIs can allow customers to instantly provision L3VPN service from UNI to UNI over two provider networks.

“ECI’s contribution to OpenLSO Service Fulfillment is clearly driving industry innovation forward,” stated MEF CTO Pascal Menezes. “The demonstration in Boston was very impressive, and we expect to experience even more at MEF16. We look forward to continuing on this exciting journey together.”

ECI will also be on hand at MEF16, 7-10 November, to showcase how a CE 2.0 Ethernet Virtual Private Line (E-Line) service with an on-demand bandwidth requirement can be orchestrated and provisioned across multiple service and cloud providers using MEF LSO Reference Architecture.

As ECI CTO Hayim Porat added, the partnership between ECI and MEF has been symbiotic.

“ECI is leading the initiative to put theory into practice, while simultaneously driving standards through code,” Porat said. “The partnership between ECI and MEF is a natural fit for ECI’s vision of enabling open, vendor-agnostic, and secure networks in the future.”