Accelerated digital transformation initiatives, the need for new business models to support work from anywhere, and on-demand applications have fueled the need for enterprise IT groups to transform their networks. This transformation has elevated the need for service and cloud providers to support secure, always-on, low-latency, and high-bandwidth requirements.
Buying and managing connectivity, security, and other services and technologies takes time, especially with newer technologies that lack common industry terminology for describing and assessing capabilities and requirements. This, in turn, slows down decision making, implementations, and service turn-up. Industry standards provide a framework for consistency in the successful design, configuration, deployment, operations, and support for products and services delivered to the enterprise. Standardized, certified services allow for straightforward service comparisons, adherence to consistent reliability and performance criteria, and ultimately a better experience for the customer.
For enterprises purchasing managed services, the process can be difficult to make apples-to-apples comparisons and slows the buying process, particularly for those professionals that lack technical training and certification. Service and technology service certifications, such as MEF 3.0 certifications, ensure a service provider’s solution conforms to industry standards and offers peace of mind for enterprises that the services they purchase will perform as expected. Equally important are training and certification for the service provider professionals who develop and design connectivity and other managed services and for the enterprise IT staff tasked with implementing and managing those services. Professional training and certification validates that engineers, architects, and product managers, among others, have the requisite knowledge to implement and manage services.
Growth of technical training and certification
To illustrate this point, the global industry association MEF recently noted that 80 global service and technology providers now offer MEF 3.0-certified Carrier Ethernet (CE) and SD-WAN solutions, and more than 8,000 professionals from 500+ companies around the globe have earned MEF professional certifications in Carrier Ethernet, SD-WAN, and SDN/NFV.
The importance of training and certification is growing globally, and service and technology providers who support enterprise digital transformation are leading the way, certifying their services, technologies, and employees. For example:
- Five of the six top companies ranked on Vertical Systems Group’s 2021 U.S. Carrier Managed SD-WAN Leaderboard—AT&T, Comcast Business, Verizon, Lumen, and Windstream—have achieved MEF 3.0 SD-WAN certification, and each of these providers employs professionals with MEF-SDCP training and certification.
- In its first benchmark for Global Managed SD-WAN Services, Vertical Systems Group’s Mid-2021 Global Provider Carrier Managed SD-WAN Leaderboard, two ranked companies—AT&T and Verizon—and three companies in the Challenge Tier—Colt, PCCW, and Telia—have attained MEF 3.0 SD-WAN services certification.
- The top four SD-WAN technology providers, as ranked by Dell’Oro Group—Cisco, Fortinet, VMware, and Versa—have attained MEF 3.0 SD-WAN technology certification.
“Worldwide, the networking industry has recognized significant advantage by achieving MEF 3.0 certifications for services, technology, and professionals,” said Rosemary Cochran, Principal & Co-Founder, Vertical Systems Group. “Our research and market share results for Carrier Ethernet and Managed SD-WAN have shown the strong correlation between leadership and MEF 3.0 certification. Certifying services and professionals results in service assurance and a better experience for enterprise customers.”
Professional technical training and certification
Adding to its suite of professional certifications, MEF recently introduced a new SD-WAN certified professional (MEF-SDCP) exam, which validates knowledge, skills, and capabilities in SD-WAN, SD-WAN security, and performance monitoring, measurement, and service readiness. Especially useful to professionals in the service provider, technology vendor, and enterprise IT communities, the MEF-SDCP is the industry’s only vendor-neutral SD-WAN professional certification.
Benefits of professional technical training and certification
Technical training and professional certification programs designed to meet the rapid pace of digital transformation provides enterprises with several benefits.
- In “The Great Resignation” or “Great Reshuffle” era, technical training and certification helps to keep top performers engaged and helps attract new top-notch employees.
- For enterprise IT staff tasked with managing vendors and networks, technical training and certification can enhance the technical knowledge required to support digital transformation initiatives during the evaluation, implementation, and management of services.
- Employees with professional certification can improve technical communication within their organization, and among customers, and partners.
Upskill your team, reap the rewards
As technologies such as SD-WAN, SASE, and edge compute become more vital to support organizations’ business and operational strategies, certified services, technologies, and professionals will offer advantages in terms of consistency in the successful design, configuration, deployment, operations, and support for products and services delivered to the enterprise. Service and technology certifications like those offered through MEF demonstrate conformance to MEF’s industry-leading standards for performance, assurance, and agility for SD-WAN and other connectivity services. In addition, technical training and professional certifications allow employees to achieve and apply standardized industry knowledge and expertise, and for employers, with an upskilled workforce, better customer support and better customer experiences.
Learn more about MEF 3.0 training and certifications here.
Kirby Russell is Director, Professional Certification at MEF. (View his full bio here.)
(Editor’s note: This article is part of our regular series of articles from the industry experts at MEF.)