interview


Q&A with Anuradha Udunuwara

SDN in the form of binary code, 3D illustration

With the Network Virtualization & SDN Asia event coming up very soon, the team at NV&SDN Asia got in touch with one of this year’s speaker Anuradha Udunuwara. Anuradha is an expert in the field of Telecom & Technology with over 15 years industry experience in Strategy, Architecture, Engineering, Design, Plan, Implementation, and Maintenance of Communications Service Provider Networks and asked him to tell us more about his journey in becoming one of the first Sri Lankan to gain his MEF certification.

When was your first-time hearing about MEF?

A few months after joining Sri Lanka Telecom as a young Engineer in 2003, I was asked to plan and design a network using a technology called “Metro Ethernet”. Though I had heard about Ethernet – Metro Ethernet was new to me. I did some research and within the first few search results I stumbled across the “Metro Ethernet Forum”.

While referring to other learning material, I extensively used the material available in MEF to learn about the foundation principles of Metro Ethernet. I found the MEF Technical Specifications user-friendly, compared to the documents published by other Standard Developing Organizations. Then in 2004, I started architecting, planning and designing Sri Lanka’s First Metro Ethernet Network from scratch and prepared the Request for Proposal documents for product selection. The document approach and evolution were based on various IETF (RFCs and drafts), ITU-T, IEEE, and MEF specifications.

In the evaluation and product selection phase we met with different vendors to listen to their product and solution presentations. The knowledge gained here helped our team to clarify things. After selecting the vendor, the network was deployed with extensive testing to make sure the interoperability with existing networks. In 2006 the Metro Ethernet products were officially launched and at that time I was called VLL (Virtual Leased Line) for E-Line and VPLS (Virtual Private LAN Service) for E-LAN. The Metro Ethernet Network expanded several times and one of the rules maintained throughout was the support of MEF standards on the selected equipment.

The success of the Metro Ethernet Network allowed companies to use this technology beyond E-Line and E-LAN but was used for service and traffic aggregation for other access networks. I then joined the planning team in 2008 to architect, design, and plan Sri Lanka’s 1st Carrier Ethernet Network, again from scratch. The same steps were taken, but with the knowledge and experience gained through the deployment of the Metro Ethernet Network. The Carrier Ethernet Network was commissioned in 2010 with a huge success and to date has had several expansions to cater to the growing demand.

After taking a different role within the same company as a Solution Support Engineer, I started using the Metro Ethernet and Carrier Ethernet services in most of my solutions. The products are now referred to as EDL (Ethernet Data Line) for E-Line and EVPN (Ethernet VPN) for E-LAN.

Since 2003 Metro Ethernet, Carrier Ethernet and MEF specifications have been widely referred and used in most of the network RFPs and product selection criteria.

Could you tell us more about your experience of getting your first MEF certification?

After 2 successful implementations of a Metro Ethernet Network and a Carrier Ethernet Network, I am more enthusiastic about the technology and the work of MEF. I started learning more and contributing to the community which leads to becoming an author and a senior contributor to the then Ethernet Academy.

In 2011 MEF introduced its first professional certification MEF-CECP (MEF-Carrier Ethernet Certified Professional) technical experts in the subject area were invited to participate in the beta test. I volunteered and took the exam – passed it on the first attempt and I was one of the 58 people in the world to become a MEF-CECP and also the first Sri Lankan to do so. I didn’t stop there. I encouraged my colleagues to participate in this examination and as a result, 2 of them got the certification. Since then I have volunteered for many MEF-CECP beta exams and in 2015, I got myself recertified with MEF-CECP.

What was it like for you to transition between MEF-CECP to becoming the world’s the first MEF Network Expert?

After getting my first MEF certification in 2011 and getting recertified in 2015, my pursuit for expanding my knowledge continued. At the same time, I saw MEF progressing itself in multiple directions supporting the requirements of the digital economy in this hyper-connected world. MEF got a new logo and everything was transformed – for the better.

Last on MEF introduced another certification called MEF-NF (MEF Network Foundations), making it the foundation credential in a stack of professional-level certifications called the MEF Network Certification Framework. MEF-NF validates at a concept level, the key terms, processes, and elements of today’s programmable networks. With this, MEF-NF introduced new areas like SDN, NFV, LSO/Orchestration, and various combinations and use cases in these practice areas, collectively called “The Software-Driven Network Vision”, in addition to Carrier Ethernet/Connectivity Services.  I again volunteered for the beta test and with self-study was able to pass the exam on the first go, making me the first Sri Lankan to get the certification.

After completing the essential level (MEF-NF) and one certification in the professional level in the MEF Network Certification Framework, I was waiting for other certifications to come up. Early this year MEF introduced their second professional level certification MEF-SDN/NFV, making it the first ISO-level exam that validates individual knowledge, skills, and abilities in the domains of SDN and NFV, expertly designed to certify real-world, practitioner-level technical skills of SDN and NFV for network/telecom operators and engineers. SDN, NFV, and Cloud have been my personal research areas since 2015 and I was looking for a way to validate my knowledge especially in SDN and NFV. I wanted to take OCSA (ONF-Certified SDN Associate Exam). But MEF-SDN/NFV came around the same time and I thought MEF certification would be a better option. Once again, I volunteered to take the beta test and with self-study, I was able to pass the exam in the first attempt becoming the world’s second MEF-SDN/NFV and Sri Lanka’s first.

In mid-2018, MEF introduced MEF Network Expert, making it the Standard of Excellence and Recognition in Software-Driven Networking. MEF Network Expert is not an exam, but a recognition and the requirement to pass all three of the MEF Professional Certification exams (MEF Network Foundations (MEF-NF), MEF Carrier Ethernet Certified Professional (MEF-CECP), and the brand-new MEF SDN/NFV Certified Professional (MEF-SDN/NFV). I later realized that I was the first person in the world to pass all 3 exams with active status and that made me the world’s first MEF Network Expert.

 

With over 15 years of industry experience Anuradha is an industry expert, so come along to this year’s event – NV & SDN Asia 2018, don’t miss one of your last chances to get your free operator pass to attend. à http://bit.ly/2oYtr8q

Tags: ,
  • Virtualizing the Cable Architecture

  • Software Defined Operations & the Autonomous Network

  • NFV and Carrier SDN: Automation and Monetization


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