Speeding up time to revenue
Pascal Menezes, CTO at MEF, explains how inter-provider automation across federated networks speeds up time to revenue
The movement of business workflows into a digital paradigm is a massive revolution that will drive tremendous new revenue opportunities for service providers and their technology partners.
While enterprises expect communications, cloud, and technology providers to collaborate to provide a frictionless, secure experience across a complex, heterogeneous ICT ecosystem from user to service, the industry faces continuously evolving commercial and technical challenges that impede the enterprise digital transformation journey. The network transformation required to support a digital economy could be much faster, bigger, and bolder with standardised commercial, business, and operational automation across a global federation of automated networks.
Evolving enterprise needs shape service provider requirements
Enterprise customers expect a one-stop-shop environment that allows for the ordering of managed connectivity, compute, and storage services in an integrated manner through a single interface point. These enterprise expectations translate into a set of requirements for their service providers:
• On-demand services need to reach any location and any type of endpoint, regardless of the type of underlay data connectivity infrastructure available.
• The services must be adaptable in real time to policies configured by the enterprise, and their performance and path (for regulatory purposes) throughout.
• The end-to-end service must be visible in real time through a single “pane of glass” portal or open APIs.
• Each stage of the lifecycle for the service, including commercial and business aspects, must be fast enough to support timelines mandated by the business requirements.
Inter-provider automation yields faster service delivery
Service providers building increasingly complex, high-value digital services rely on partners to supply services and products to complete their offering (e.g. off-net connectivity to enterprise customer sites). Today these inter-provider business interactions – such as product offering qualification, quoting, inventory and trouble ticketing – are available to service providers from their wholesale partners. However, these core business functionalities include extensive manual/human intervention that results in lengthy – and often error-prone – interactions that take days, weeks, or even months.
In addition, supply chains for complex, high-value digital services cannot scale if they are formed from proprietary “pair-wise” (strictly bilateral) automation links (i.e. APIs) between the constituent providers in the chain. Only open, standardised APIs can enable digital service providers to create the dynamic, high-value offerings supplied by many partners in real time.
Standardised, automated APIs enable service providers to invest in these automated interfaces and reuse them for large numbers of wholesale partners and for many current and future on-demand data services. Conversely, wholesale partners can invest once in a standardised automated business set of APIs and appeal to a much larger range of potential service-provider customers.
MEF is a global industry association of network, cloud, and technology providers driving network transformation to power the digital economy. The organisation, through the work of its member companies, has developed the Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) API Framework, a set of software development kits (SDKs) containing APIs, tools, documentation, and underlying standards for frictionless service provider commerce. MEF LSO Sonata APIs allow business automation between service providers and wholesale partners at the LSO Sonata reference point for a large range of dynamically changing services starting with wholesale carrier ethernet services, but can be expanded to any type of service and/or product offerings including new digital offerings such as edge computing and other digital transformational workloads – for example, IoT, AI/ML and AR/VR.
The new Billie release, the second in a train of LSO API releases occurring every six months, includes support for automated business functionalities – e.g. the product quote, ordering, and inventory of carrier ethernet connectivity services.
MEF is introducing a rich portfolio of services, programs, and resources aimed at accelerating the implementation of LSO APIs for service providers and their partners – for all stages of the implementation lifecycle, including business-case development and testing of implementations and LSO API certification. LSO Sonata commercial automation APIs allow service providers to introduce new revenue streams, accelerate service delivery, accelerate time to revenue, and improve the customer experience.