MEF is turning its focus to Network-as-a-Service, and in early October 2023 held its first large industry event since Covid – the “Global NaaS Event”, at Texas Live! In the Dallas Area.

No baseball, alas, but a terrific lineup of participants and speakers – with C-level as well as deep experts from Verizon, AT&T, Lumen, Console Connect/PCCW, Colt, Comcast, Deutche Telekom, Orange, Sparkle, TIM, Telstra, NTT – and a similar cast of software suppliers including ServiceNow, Netcracker Technology, Spirent, Microsoft (Azure) along with dozens of specialists helping to drive this project forward – aaS API operators, exchanges, test vendors and more. Interestingly, a growing number of large enterprise CI/TOs attended to provide a voice of the customer.

This event spanned three days, Monday Oct 2nd through Wednesday evening Oct 4th and included main speaking/panel tracks, technical committee meetings, a demo/accelerator area, and extensive time and places for networking.

NaaS: a business strategy

NaaS was the central focus – and despite numerous competing definitions, MEF now has its own, though with a spirited discussion about the relative importance of “on-demand” connectivity vs enabling an automated ecosystem.

For MEF, one version of such an ecosystem is between service provider peers, rather than between layers of value-adding service providers. APIs that make that possible are fundamental to efforts to improve speed, lower cost, and generally reduce friction in addressing a $100bn revenue opportunity.

Stepping into a world of APIs – more precisely, a business model enabled by APIs – is a vital step in the growth of telecom. It was one of the most notable topics at MWC 2023, with the CAMARA initiative. Good to see MEF also supporting this overall goal with detailed (and complementary) work of its own.

MEF’s take on APIs builds on its lifecycle service orchestration (LSO) framework. We’ve always liked MEF’s focus on real-world, specific services (this is, after all, what enterprise customers want to buy!).

Operators and Customers Speak

The operator perspective on NaaS was particularly informative, especially in relation to progress onboarding developers to their NaaS API platforms. Naas is (correctly) now being recognized as more of a long-term strategic change. The overriding importance of Automation is now established as an integral part of a NaaS vision – one that includes business and commercial functions. We welcome the surfacing of these wider business considerations. As we are reminded of so often at telecom and technology events – the real change is not achieved by the technology alone.

High-value conversation at MEF also explored commercial aspects of NaaS – what is it that customers will actually value?

All in all, another insightful, productive, informative and on-the-money gathering from MEF that did not shirk from the challenging issues, but did so in a true spirit of driving industry progress.

We go into more depth on these topics and the event in a separate 7-page Research Note.

Grant Lenahan, Principal Analyst

Picture credit: MEF