Open APIs

Extending TM Forum APIs for network service orchestration

TM Forum’s extensible Open Application Program Interfaces (Open APIs) provide the foundation for service-specific implementations developed in partnership with other standards development organizations (SDOs) and open source groups. These implementations will increase the value of software-defined networking (SDN) by helping to orchestrate and automate connectivity services across networks globally.

At the Forum, we are working with organizations like MEF and the Linux Foundation’s Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) to extend our Open APIs, which are service agnostic, industry agnostic and technology agnostic. They provide a core to build upon and can work for any service, which we’ve proved through Catalyst proof-of-concept projects in industrial manufacturing, health and a number of other industries.

Extensions for network interoperability

Extensions of the Open APIs enable interoperability in all domains, including down at the network level, dealing with the management, operational and business interactions between communications service providers (CSPs) and their partners. MEF and TM Forum have worked together specifically to help CSPs partner to deliver carrier Ethernet services in an automated way (see diagram below).

Source: MEF

“A tremendous amount of collaborative work has been going on to build out a global community of automated, virtualized and interconnected networks that will support orchestration of on-demand services across multiple providers and multiple network technology domains,” explains MEF President Nan Chen.

What is LSO Sonata? 

MEF and TM Forum have been working together extensively on MEF’s LSO (Lifecycle Service Orchestration) Sonata, which defines the reference point supporting management and operational interactions between CSPs and other partners for processes such as ordering, provisioning, service assurance and billing. MEF has been using the Frameworx Business Process Framework, Information Framework and Open APIs in specific use cases, and providing feedback to the Forum so that they can be enhanced.

We collaborated last year on a network-as-a-service Catalyst to build a network connectivity services layer, delivered across multiple operators through MEF. This combined with the Forum’s platform, B2B2X partnering, ZOOM and Open API initiatives allows operators to provision and manage services end to end.

Another Catalyst this year called Partnering platform for MEF services demonstrated how to extend the Forum’s Open APIs to enable ordering of carrier Ethernet services according to MEF’s definitions. During the demonstration, DGIT’s Telflow system was used to create a self-service ordering portal for customers. Orders were then fulfilled automatically using the MEF Sonata interface. Inomial’s Smile cloud BSS was used to automate billing.

Watch the video below to learn more about it:

The next phase of the Catalyst, which will be demonstrated at TM Forum’s Innovation InFocus in Dallas in November and at TM Forum Live! Asia in December, is adding network equipment vendors Ciena and Riverbed to automate network activation.

Open APIs as a core

Four TM Forum Open APIs provide the core for the standardized APIs within the LSO Sonata SDK (software developer kit):

  • LSO Sonata Address Validation API extends the TM Forum Address API and Site API;
  • LSO Sonata Serviceability API extends the TM Forum Product Ordering Qualification API; and
  • LSO Ordering API extends the TM Forum Product Offering API.

As Stéphan Pelletier, Director Product Management, Oracle Communications Service and Network Orchestration, and MEF Co-Director of LSO Orchestration, explains, “The telecom world is rapidly moving towards an ecosystem of partners where all types of providers (services, wholesale, cloud, applications etc.) will expose API services externally that service providers can leverage and orchestrate, along with their internal service and network orchestration, to deliver the best possible end-to-end customer experience.

“API standardization and adoption, at least for external APIs, are critical for accelerating the realization of such a real-time partner ecosystem.”

All the Forum’s 40+ REST-based Open APIs have been produced to enable the kind of innovative services our collaboration with MEF has produced. Benefits of using the APIs and extending them include greatly enhanced customer experience, operational efficiencies and rapid revenue generation for all the partners in a digital ecosystem.

How to work with open source?

TM Forum also is working closely with ONAP and other open source communities such as ETSI’s Open Source MANO (OSM) to figure out how to align and extend our APIs with theirs. At the same time, ONAP is reaching out to other standards development organizations (SDOs) including MEF, highlighting an urgent need for not only SDOs to work together but for open source groups to align their efforts with those of SDOs.

ONAP has published a white paper on harmonizing open source and standards. The goal, according to
Arpit Joshipura, General Manager of Networking & Orchestration of the Linux Foundation, is to answer questions like: “Do we write code? Do we write specs? Or do we write both? Which comes first? How do we upstream? How do we downstream? How do we license?”

Joshipura gave a keynote presentation at TM Forum’s Action Week in September discussing how automation in CSPs’ networks and operations support environments is mandatory before 5G hits, which means collaboration among open source projects and standards bodies is also mandatory.

“My call to action here is very significant – we have global participation, a very vibrant diverse community and the service providers are requesting harmonization across open source and open standards,” Joshipura said. “So, our view is to let the technical people, the best minds out there, come up with a good strategy.

“We’ve been through enough technology wars. We don’t want to fight a technology war of ‘my API is better than yours’. Let’s figure out the best answer to this. We’ve done it once in ONAP when we merged the Open-O and ECOMP architectures, so let’s do that here.”

Indeed, we have been through enough technology wars. The only way for all of us and all our members to succeed is through collaboration. We look forward to continuing our work with MEF, ONAP and other SDOs and open source communities to help CSPs in their quests to build automated, data-driven digital ecosystems. If you’d like to learn more about how our Open APIs can help, please visit our website. If you’d like to get involved in the Forum’s work, please contact me directly via email.


    About The Author

    VP, APIs & Ecosystems

    Joann’s career spans over 20 years in technology, ranging from consumer electronics, telecommunications mobile switching to OSS/BSS and more recently to industry collaboration. Joann is currently the program lead for TM Forum’s Open API & Ecosystems initiative, chair of the API Steering Committee and lead for the Open Hack program. Joann has significant experience leading complex large scale transformation programs for a number of organizations.

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