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ODA blog series: Leading companies prove real world value of TM Forum Open APIs

CSPs are fast transitioning to become more software-led and digital-native. They are moving from their current legacy, non-standardized protocol multi-vendor frameworks to a more cloud-based ecosystem.

15 Sep 2022
ODA blog series:  Leading companies prove real world value of TM Forum Open APIs

ODA blog series: Leading companies prove real world value of TM Forum Open APIs

For communication services providers (CSPs) to differentiate themselves and deliver new customer centric services, they are fast transitioning to become even more software-led and digital-native. To do this they are moving from their current legacy, non-standardized protocol multi-vendor frameworks to a more cloud-based ecosystem. However, these old legacy systems were integrated through years of in-house bespoke development, leading to a massive technical debt and costly integration/upgrade processes.

This is why CSPs must simplify the “interoperability mismatch” within their software-centric operating model through Open APIs to:

  • Reduce the integration risk, time, and cost,
  • Reduce customization and help simplify partnering
  • Reduce upgrade and integration costs
  • Improve customer centricity through faster service deployments

Introducing TM Forum Open APIs

TM Forum Open APIs make it easier to create, build and operate complex innovative services and simplify the integration of a CSP’s OSS and BSS software. They remove the guesswork to successfully monetize connectivity requirements both vertically (vendor to CPS) and horizontally (vendor to vendor) within the CSP's ecosystem.

TM Forum Open APIs (see 60+ here) have transitioned into real-world, practical, implemented instances, simplifying interoperability of software applications within the telecoms industry and beyond. Leading CSPs have been certifying their own Open APIs in their live operations, including Verizon, Bell Canada and Jio (who now top the leader board with more than 50 certified Open APIs).

Software vendors are also finding commercial advantage and value from conforming and certifying their Open APIs. Open API conformance is a major aspect in building industry-wide trust and credibility for the TM Forum program and has led to over 50 organizations certifying 470+ of their Open APIs in commercial software products. However, this brings no guarantee that every version of the vendor’s product is conformant (especially if there are different code branches per customer), or that the Open APIs will be used when a buyer deploys the product in a real-world environment. This month, Tecnotree became the first software provider to undertake TM Forum’s new “Real-world Open API Conformance Certification” verifying 5 Open APIs deployed within its CSP customer, MTN.

So what’s next for TM Forum’s Open APIs?

REST-based APIs have been the core of our Open API project but to future proof, simplify and improve usability that will enable their use within future networks, we have introduced:

  • Domain Context Specializations (DCS): TM Forum Open APIs are all about real-world usage, so to simplify our APIs for faster more dynamic deployments we have introduced the concept of Domain Context Specification (DCS).

“These easy-to-use APIs are built for a single purpose, though they are still based on the foundation of the TM Forum Open APIs, they are more specific for the domain (e.g., WLAN, 5G slicing) in which they are to be used; a single API can have many DCSs,” said George Glass, CTO of TM Forum.

TM Forum members have published a DCS for 5G network slicing and have plans to crowdsource a DCS repository for the industry.

  • Async Open APIs: As CSP networks become more cloud-native, event-based architectures which maximize efficiency and streamline interoperation between the microservices-based applications which make up the IT and network estate have become popular. To support these architectures, TM Forum has recently introduced variants of its Open APIs which support asynchronous operation, complementing the REST-based versions which have been widely deployed to date.

  • Open API Specification (OAS): Version 5 of TM Forum’s Open API standards is also being rolled out, with 11 v5 Open APIs published this week, including support for Open API Specification (OAS) v3.0.1 to ensure future-proofing and compliance with cross-industry standards.

Why should you get involved?

To date, 143 of the world’s leading communications service providers (CSPs) and technology ecosystem participants have signed the Open API Manifesto publicly demonstrating their endorsement of TM Forum’s suite of Open APIs.

The Open API project, through its industry-led approach, has made TM Forum the go-to API standards for telecoms industry with more than 565,000 downloads by 35,000 software developers from nearly 2,500 organizations (see latest). Other Standards Development Organizations (SDOs), such as MEF, are also using the in-built extensibility of the TM Forum Open APIs to develop domain-specific versions for applications such as Carrier Ethernet and SD-WAN.

Find out about the next steps in the ODA journey

Open APIs are proving a great starting point for CSPs and vendors to create a “plug and play” environment, however this is not enough. That is why TM Forum is now taking the next exciting and dynamic step to creating more detailed interoperability open standards, through the introduction of the ODA components and canvas concept, which delivers a new approach for the management and operation of IT and business operations. Learn more in our next ODA blog.

If you want to talk more about TM Forum Open APIs, or ODA’s new components and canvas concept, come and see us at the TM Forum ODA stand at DTW on the 20-22 September in Copenhagen, where our members will be showcasing the real-world work they are doing on ODA.

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