Accelerating the buildout of the automated ecosystem supporting NaaS

Accelerating the buildout of the automated ecosystem supporting NaaS


By Stan Hubbard, principal analyst at MEF

One of the hottest topics of discussion in networking events in Q4 2023 will be the major effort underway to build out a standards-based global ecosystem of automated networks supporting Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) and other next-generation services.

Senior MEF staff have engaged in conversation with 400 individuals from 125+ service providers on the topic of service automation since March 2022.

Important NaaS-related highlights from these discussions are summarised below. Additional important developments are explored in detail in MEF’s recently published State of the Industry Report – Paradigm Shift: Automating Business Functions Between Service Providers.

NaaS Requires a Standards-Based Automated Ecosystem

The communications industry is accelerating its transformation to dynamic services across a global ecosystem of automated networks to address enterprise requirements for cloud-like experiences.

NaaS solutions are particularly reflective of this trend because they combine on-demand connectivity, application assurance, cybersecurity, and multi-cloud-based services across automated networks to help enterprises achieve business outcomes without having to build and maintain their own infrastructure.

NaaS solutions offer many advanced capabilities – including user control, real-time and application-driven changes, end-to-end performance visibility, pay-as-you go and monthly subscription options, etc. – that require the coordination of resources provided by numerous partners in an automated ecosystem.

NaaS represents a new way to deliver network services and capabilities made of piece parts of many providers, which could include retail service providers, wholesale service providers, hyperscalers, technology solution providers, data centre providers, and others.

NaaS cannot be done without automation. And for the global NaaS market to reach its full potential, this automation must be standards-based. Automation must happen throughout the supply chain where all parties in the supply chain adopt a standard set of processes and APIs.

Stated another way, NaaS has major implications for the wholesale buy and sell community which must be aligned on creating automated networks that can efficiently scale to support many advanced services and frictionless transactions among many ecosystem partners.

Standardised APIs are Foundational for the Automated Ecosystem

Standardised APIs are essential building blocks for automating business and operational functions and are critical for enabling parties to interact reliably and efficiently within an interconnected, automated ecosystem.

Industry organisations – including MEF, the ITW Global Leaders’ Forum (GLF), and TM Forum – have collaborated to drive development and adoption of standardised APIs with the goal of unlocking the full potential of this ecosystem.

MEF has introduced sets of standards-based Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) business process APIs and operational APIs that uniquely provide the high fidelity (tightly defined context), plug-and-play interoperability, and extensibility required to enable service providers to “invest once” and efficiently scale implementations with many partners and services.

MEF LSO Business APIs are a Hot Area of Activity

The level of attention focused on standards-based automation has picked up dramatically over the past year. For example, the number of service providers and individuals engaged with MEF on LSO APIs has exploded 96% and 118% respectively since June 2022.

Most of the activity thus far has focused on the popular MEF LSO Sonata APIs that automate business processes between service providers.

These APIs currently support address validation, site query, product catalog, product offering qualification, product offering availability discovery, quote, price discovery, product order, product inventory, trouble ticketing and incidents, appointment, work order, and billing and settlement for Carrier Ethernet Access E-Line and Internet Access services.

Many more services, including wavelength, dark fiber, edge compute, and other services, will be supported in the future.

MEF’s proprietary research reveals 135+ service providers worldwide are now in some stage of the LSO Sonata adoption lifecycle, from interest through to production.

MEF forecasts the number of companies in production will increase rapidly from 30 in mid-2023 to 69+ by the end of 2024 before continuing to surge ahead to nearly 100 by the end of 2025.

Among key benefits, the LSO Sonata buy/sell model enables service providers to:

• Accelerate service delivery, with reports of an average 25% reduction in order cycle times

• Accelerate time-to-revenue on every LSO API-enabled order

• Boost revenue opportunities by becoming a preferred provider.

 Join the Journey!

Now is a great time to engage with the MEF community to learn more about LSO business and operational APIs and start your implementation journey that will put your company in a better position to capitalise on NaaS-related revenue growth opportunities. A large volume of LSO resources, mature software development kits (SDKs), growing experience of LSO community professionals, and an expanding list of LSO solution providers are helping accelerate development, test, and implementation times for LSO APIs.

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