Multi-provider service orchestration across automated networks

30 August 2018 |

Cover

MEF is coordinating the release of a series of APIs for its Sonata LSO, writes the organisation’s chief technology officer, Pascal Menezes

hile some can argue that the internet is good enough to provide basic connectivity between site to site and site to cloud, most large enterprises still rely on managed private network services as their connectivity fabric of choice. These include MPLS and Carrier Ethernet.

However, enterprises want their managed network services to become more cloud-like, so that they can self-provision their connectivity needs while gaining visibility of performance guarantees.

MEF recently launched the MEF 3.0 global service framework to help service providers transform their network services to meet these enterprise customer needs.

The MEF 3.0 framework comprises of four key areas to facilitate delivery of assured, automated services that can span multiple network technology domains and multiple service provider domains.

For assuring services, MEF 3.0 is focused on defining the common language for optical transport, Carrier Ethernet and IP services. MEF is also defining virtualised services such as SD-WAN, along with up-and-coming security-as-a-service (SECaaS) and other higher-layer application services.

For automation, MEF has defined the foundational lifecycle service orchestration (LSO) reference architecture and is defining a given set of open APIs at the various MEF LSO reference points.

The LSO Sonata reference point is the management interface reference point that supports the business and operations interactions – such as ordering, billing and trouble management – between two connectivity service providers.

For example, retail service provider business applications may use LSO Sonata ordering API to place an order with a wholesale partner for a MEF-defined service. MEF will soon release a series of Sonata LSO APIs.

Serviceability

The serviceability API allows a retail service provider to determine during either the pre-sales or service-fulfillment phases if sufficient physical and logical resources are on hand to provision a given service on behalf of a specific customer in a specified geographical location.

The retail service provider’s operational support system can request a number of actions and/or information from a wholesale partner’s system: validate an address associated with a service delivery location; Retrieve sites based on a filtering criteria
or ID; Determine if a service (including service configuration parameter) can be delivered to a specific customer site within a wholesale partner’s domain.

Inventory

The product inventory API allows a retail provider to retrieve product inventory instances that have been specifically ordered from the wholesale partner. Each product instance that is retrieved from the wholesale partner’s inventory system has a generic set of product attributes and a set of product-specific attributes that are used to extend a product’s instance.

The ordering API allows for a retail service provider to place an order to a given wholesale business partner, including specific service attributes. A buyer can create, change, disconnect, query, amend in-flight and cancel an order.

Trouble ticketing

The trouble ticketing API allows the ability for a retail service provider system to create and manage trouble tickets with a given wholesale business partner related to a given set of products. The following are some example scenarios:

• Create a new trouble ticket;

• Retrieve existing trouble tickets;

• Partially modify an open trouble ticket;

• Close an open trouble ticket;

• Cancel an open trouble ticket;

• Carry out trouble ticket-related notifications.

Quotes

The quote API allows a retail service provider system to get quotes from different wholesale business partners. A buyer can make a request to create, retrieve, cancel or get quote notifications from a given wholesale business partner.

Once the wholesale partner and retail service provider have agreed to a negotiated amount, the wholesale provider is expected to update the quote based on the agreement.

Other APIs that MEF will soon be working on at the LSO Sonata reference point are use cases such as SLA reporting, contracting, catalogue, invoicing,
contact management and implementation feedback.

MEF also is moving closer to publishing a specification that identifies LSO Sonata operations that benefit from Commercial Billing and Settlement APIs. This new spec will define the "Commercial Affecting Attributes" that need to be agreed between a service provider and a wholesale partner for commercial activities related to defined MEF services. This includes a commercial relation between buying and selling entities, the differences between price and cost, and the concept of margin. A commercial agreement may use distributed ledger technology as an automated method for dispute resolution and settlement between buyer and seller operators for services such as bandwidth on demand. API calls can be used as a billing interface between entities, while in a blockchain-enabled environment settlement is performed directly through the ledger.