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In today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, secure and flexible solutions are of paramount importance. MEF Chief Operating Officer (COO) Kevin Vachon exclusively talked to Telecom Review on how the upcoming Global Network-as-a-Service Event (GNE) serves as a pivotal platform to gather the industry together to share insights, and exchange knowledge on these important topics.

With few days left before MEF’s first annual Global Network-as-a-Service Event (GNE), what is the most exciting part for senior executives and decision makers?

The most exciting aspect of MEF's first annual Global Network-as-a-Service Event (GNE) for senior executives and decision makers in the communications industry is the unique opportunity it presents to converge and collaborate for the first time with the broader Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) community. We are also bringing together a subset of this community that is uniquely focused on implementing MEF Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) standard APIs for NaaS and other use cases.

In today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, secure and flexible solutions are of paramount importance. GNE serves as a pivotal platform to gather the industry together to share insights, and exchange knowledge on these important topics. What’s more, the convergence of various sectors including service and technology providers, enterprise, cloud, and more offers attendees the chance to gain perspectives on NaaS from diverse angles. For senior executives and decision makers, this event is an invaluable opportunity to deepen their understanding of NaaS's integral role in enterprise digital transformation.

GNE is where the future of NaaS is being shaped, where the latest trends and technologies are discussed, and where enterprises can discover how to achieve their digital transformation goals.

What is the importance of accelerating secure NaaS offerings, automation platforms and ecosystems in today’s digital transformation landscape?

NaaS has become a critical component of the industry transformation towards secure and dynamic services. NaaS platforms enable organizations to consume new network services in a flexible and scalable manner by seamlessly integrating on-demand connectivity, application assurance, cybersecurity, and multi-cloud-based services delivered across an ecosystem of automated networks.

Increasingly, service providers must rely on a diverse variety of service and technology provider partners  to deliver agile and scalable services and to do this, end-to-end automation is necessary. It create a seamless journey for customers, minimizing disruptions and simplifying interactions. Furthermore, automation empowers service providers to rapidly scale operations, introduce new services, and effectively address shifting customer demands.

Building robust NaaS ecosystems is imperative. Strategic partnerships expand the range of services and solutions available to customers, fostering competitiveness in a rapidly evolving market. Standardized automated processes enhance collaboration between partners and creates a more efficient environment for inter-provider interactions ultimately translating to faster time-to-market for innovative offerings and a more robust ecosystem.

NaaS providers also need to compete with hyperscale cloud providers which offer their own NaaS solutions, often integrated with other cloud services. To stay competitive, NaaS providers must differentiate themselves by tailoring services and solutions to meet the specific needs of enterprise customers.

How will a global ecosystem of companies work together to fulfil the demand of digital and network transformation? Who will play the most crucial part?

A global ecosystem of communications service providers (CSPs), cloud providers, technology vendors, and cloud service providers, among others, will partner to offer a wide range of services and solutions. This horizontal integration, as MEF refers to it, accomplished via MEF LSO APIs, will enable companies to meet the demands of digital transformation and help enterprises achieve their goals.

Standards-based LSO APIs will play the most crucial role in enabling a global ecosystem of companies to work together to fulfill the demand of digital and network transformation. These APIs will allow different companies to connect their systems and services together in a seamless and scalable manner. This will make it easier for enterprises to consume NaaS services from a variety of providers and to create customized solutions that meet their specific needs.

What do you think will be the primary drivers for enterprises to delve more into NaaS solutions and how will service providers be benefiting from this journey?

NaaS solutions are gaining significant traction among enterprises, a surge that can be attributed to several primary drivers steering organizations towards NaaS. Service providers stand to benefit as well.

Service Agility: The rapid pace of technological change demands increased agility from enterprises. NaaS solutions allow organizations to quickly adapt to changing network requirements, enabling them to scale up or down as needed. Service providers benefit by offering on-demand services to align with evolving customer needs.

Security: With the ever-growing threat landscape, network security is a paramount concern for enterprises. NaaS solutions, often equipped with advanced security features including SASE, empower organizations to bolster their network defenses. Service providers can capitalize on this heightened demand for secure networks by delivering robust security offerings within their NaaS packages.

Unified service-level agreements (SLAs): NaaS streamlines SLAs by providing a unified, standardized framework. This simplifies the management of network services for enterprises. Service providers can leverage this by offering standardized SLAs, reducing administrative overhead and ensuring consistent quality of service.

Flexible Consumption/Billing Models: NaaS introduces flexible billing models, such as pay-as-you-go, which resonate with cost-conscious enterprises. Service providers can benefit from this shift by offering customized pricing structures that align with customers' usage patterns, enhancing their competitiveness in the market.

Aligned with the anticipated success of GNE this year, how will MEF continue powering its mission based on the four pillars of services, LSO APIs, community and certification?

MEF is poised to drive its mission forward by aligning the success of GNE to a strategic approach centered around the four pillars of services, automation, ecosystem, and certification.

First and foremost, we are evolving these pillars under a NaaS umbrella in response to the rapidly changing landscape of communications, emphasizing the need for standardized, automated solutions. Our goal is to incorporate services, automation APIs, ecosystem development, and certifications seamlessly into this NaaS framework.

One of our key initiatives is the creation of an industry NaaS blueprint. This blueprint will serve as a comprehensive guide for service providers embarking on their NaaS journey. It will also promote collaboration with those actively developing relevant standards, fostering a thriving ecosystem.

In addition to this work, MEF will continue to do the underlying technical work in all of these areas as it has done for many years. This includes developing and promoting standards and certifications and providing educational resources to the NaaS community.