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AT&T, Orange, Colt, MEF and TM Forum Collaborate on Common SDN Business API Standards for Multi-Carrier SDN Service Orchestration at MWC 2017

by Sue Rudd | Mar 02, 2017

In the cacophony of MWC 2017 many did not notice the announcement that may have the biggest positive impact on Communications Service Provider (CSP) financials in 2017. Three major CSPs - AT&T, Colt and Orange announced work on common API Standards for orchestrated Multi-Carrier SDN Services. These APIs will define how services can ordered, quoted, billed, delivered and assured across multiple carrier networks - both locally and globally.

This significant breakthrough did not happen overnight!

Over the last several years the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) has pioneered the Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) Reference Architecture and Framework. The goal of LSO is to streamline, automate and coordinate “management and control across all network domains responsible for delivering an end-to-end orchestrated service.”

LSO provides reference points for management operations that include fulfillment, performance, control, assurance, usage, analytics, security, and policy capabilities. See the Diagram below.

LSO Reference Architecture

LSO Reference Architecture

Source: MEF

Section 13. Appendix I of the document gives ‘Informative Management Interface Reference Point Examples’ for each of interfaces with the ‘musical’ names shown above - both within and across the three domains -Customer, Service Provider and Partner.

MEF and TM Forum are now collaborating with ten service providers to develop a complete suite of inter-provider LSO APIs that use the LSO Reference Architecture as part of the TM Forum Open API framework. The initial focus is on the LSO Sonata Business to Business Reference Point -See Diagram above.

Two of the most active partners have been AT&T and Colt who claimed the first successful Software-Defined Networking (SDN) Interoperability Trial in November 2016. Orange - who also partners with AT&T to test the ECOMP platform - joined AT&T and Colt to accelerate adoption of SDN services.

This week at MWC 2017 AT&T, Orange, and Colt announced that they are working with MEF and TM Forum to release the first set of standard application programming interfaces (APIs) for orchestrated Carrier Ethernet services.

In parallel AT&T and the enterprise arm of Orange, Orange Business Services are working on services that will likely include the ‘Killer App.’ for SDN Services - Global ‘On Demand’ VPNs.

The CSPs are focusing on “standardized APIs that will enable SDN architectures from different network service providers to interoperate with each other… across continents.”

Going forward other CSPs have joined the MEF and TMForum work including CableLabs, Comcast, Level 3 (now part of Century Link), Kyrio, PCCW Global, Sparkle (TI), Verizon and as the MEF MWC Announcement notes “Eight LSO Sonata API definitions are planned to be standardized. The first three APIs below are expected to be defined in the first round of the project – LSO Sonata Release 1 – by the end of this year.” The eight targeted functions are:

  • 1. Address validation
  • 2. Service availability
  • 3. Ordering
  • 4. Quoting
  • 5. Billing
  • 6. Assurance
  • 7. Testing
  • 8. Change management

As the joint AT&T press release notes “These APIs will help reduce the burden of fragmented networks, giving businesses the power to provision scalable, flexible network services on-demand through software platforms like ECOMP.”

Hopefully this will eventually mean an end to the foolish ‘Battle of the Orchestrators’ and that there is no future need for the inefficient nonsense of an Orchestrator of Orchestrators.

These APIs also set the stage for InterProcess Communications (IPC) to monitor flows across Service Providers that could lead to true End to End ‘service layers’ replacing today’s siloed SDN domains.

In 2014 we noted that ‘Service Orchestration demands efficient end to end flow management’ in ‘NFV and SDN have Extensive Implications for Operators that are just becoming Apparentand in 2015 we described the need for new API functionality for seamless services in ‘SDN for Revenue Growth’. Our 2015 Blog warned ‘Northbound Interfaces are Coming. Change your API or Die...’.

Now services could soon operate across CSPs and their partners’ boundaries to enable profitable Value Added and Managed Services in a Global Telco Cloud. 

Seamless Intercarrier Services offer the potential for a significant global advantage for Service Providers to compete with (and complement) OTT and ISP only enterprise and consumer cloud solutions that rely on VPN or IPSec tunnels to operate in single provider domains or clouds.

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