As communication service providers (CSP) transform their business to create new revenue sources in a dynamic environment, they must automate the network and the underlying business processes to deliver products and services. An essential component for automating end-to-end network services is the multi-domain service orchestration framework, which designs, creates, deploys and manages network service lifecycles across multiple technology domains. Open APIs are a key enabler in deploying service orchestration, because they provide a common language for integration that enables the service orchestrator to communicate efficiently throughout the CSP’s business and operations ecosystem.
What does a service orchestrator do?
As part of delivering and managing the lifecycle of a customer product order, the service orchestrator deconstructs the customer-facing service request from the fulfillment system to a set of network-facing service requests. In addition, the orchestrator applies business processes and policy to efficiently deploy network services. The orchestrator interfaces with domain controllers, and virtual, cloud resources, using standard interface protocols to configure the infrastructure. Network automation and orchestration go hand-in-hand, and the integration of business and operational systems are facilitated by Open API integrations.
The many benefits of Open APIs
As CSPs move to transform operations by implementing automation, one of the major roadblocks hampering projects is the integration process. The quote I found from Dr. Lester Thomas, Chief Systems Architect, Vodafone Group, sums up what many have found:
“Today, the functionality we get from software vendors is not the issue, the hell we have to go through to integrate them is” -Dr. Lester Thomas, Chief Systems Architect, Vodafone
Open APIs facilitate the integration that is most important in supporting dynamic network architectures.
Open APIs provide a common language to exchange service and network information between the ecosystem. Their key benefit is that system integration is faster, allowing providers to speed up service delivery. Just starting out with a standard API definition enables faster integration, with less time spent defining the interface. Focus effort where it should be – on the product attributes and how the network can deliver enhanced functionality. From a real world implementation perspective, open APIs deliver up to 50% savings in time and effort versus proprietary integration methods. Additionally, the ability to rapidly modify service and product catalogs supports the paradigm shift towards dynamic service products which allow customers to adapt their services on the fly. This enables providers to better support customer product needs and generate additional revenue.
CSPs adopting Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) methodology leverage Open APIs to enable application DevOps teams to integrate distributed microservice functions and integrate them into the service offering. Having a common interface facilitates faster and more reliable code changes which translates to the ability to accelerate innovation, transform business process and deliver dynamic offerings to the marketplace.
Open APIs for products are the most popular
Open APIs like those developed by the TM Forum are being utilized globally by CSPs in production environments, transforming the way products and services are delivered. CSP DevOps teams are embracing Open APIs to deliver fast and repeatable systems integrations. The latest TM Forum Open API Adoption Assessment Report found significant industry momentum amongst both CSPs and vendors. The top Open API downloads this year were:
- TMF666 Account Management
- TMF622 Product Ordering
- TMF620 Product Catalog Management
Learn more about how Open APIs speed up service delivery: TM Forum Dynamic Architecture
The service orchestration functionality using open APIs was key to the success of the 2020 TM Forum Dynamic Architecture Catalyst Project, which demonstrates how service definitions can be dynamically federated so that services may be productized, sold, ordered, activated, self-managed and assured using a visual catalog experience. The use of Open APIs earned the Fujitsu team the award for Outstanding Use of TM Forum Assets. The Catalyst Project offers a template for CSPs to deliver innovative, complex services straightforwardly and dynamically.
Open APIs are just one aspect of service orchestration. Look for future blogs where I’ll explore some of the others, including:
- Model driven networks with technology domain abstraction
- Standardize service Catalogs
- Operational and Business Processes models
- Policy Management
- Scale and robustness
- Cloud-Capable Networks