December 1st, 2017

Automation Remains Under the Spotlight as Carriers Seek to Launch Hybrid Services

The communications industry is going through a dramatic shift as carriers and multiple-system operators (MSOs) pursue digital transformation initiatives and evolve their legacy, physical infrastructure and operations to virtualized and software-defined networking capabilities.

The lines between Communications Service Providers (CSPs) and web-scale, cloud-based service providers (Google, Amazon, etc.) are blurring as network, compute, storage, and application services are delivered to business customers “as-a-service”.

One of the hottest new offerings from CSPs is software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN). SD-WAN services enable service providers to seamlessly interconnect enterprise networks — including branch offices and data centers — over large geographic distances and across multiple network operators and cloud-services providers.

One of the key advantages of SD-WAN is that it delivers dynamic network control and traffic-shaping capabilities abstracted away from the underlying network access method(s) used to connect physical sites and service locations. This allows businesses and enterprises to use cheaper access methods, like broadband, to augment or replace higher-cost network access services, such as MPLS.

However, achieving the benefits of SD-WAN requires solving the highly manual, swivel-chair heavy, access ordering process between service providers, which is further complicated for non-standard broadband access orders.

Overcoming this challenge was one of the key talking points at this year’s annual MEF event. MEF is an international industry consortium that defined the Third Network concept, which combines the agility and ubiquity of the Internet with the performance and security of CE 2.0 networks.

One of their core focuses is to establish a framework that enables agile, assured, and orchestrated services for our hyper-connected world. Fundamentally, what this means is making networks work together so that new services can be customized and delivered quickly and seamlessly.

At the event, I had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion “Automating Service Fulfillment and Activation with LSO”.  The premise of the panel was to discuss how service providers can bridge the gap to achieving dynamic network Lifecycle Service Orchestration by automating service fulfillment. While service providers have made strides in automating service fulfillment within their own environment; the challenge remains in how to orchestrate new, dynamic network services spanning multiple providers – which is required for services like SD-WAN. The reason this is complex is due to:

• Systems: compatibility and integration issues with legacy OSS platforms and new, open source and cloud-based systems

• Operations: slow adoption of DevOps models for agile development, implementation, and operation of Service Fulfillment capabilities in a production environment

• Standards: varying degrees of adoption and implementation of evolving industry standards

As a member of MEF, Neustar has been working with the industry association along with ATIS and the TM Forum on how to overcome these challenges, beginning with the development of APIs for inter-provider service fulfillment and service activation. This will set the stage for service providers to support new networked services beyond CE, such as Security-as-a-Service, and support dynamic, real-time commercial order transactions between not only one-to-one trading partners but one-to-many, multilateral trading. This will eliminate the swivel-chair approach that hinders service providers managing broadband ordering between different trading partners, and will significantly expedite the time to provision and activate services that span multiple providers.

In this era of software defined networking (SDN), service providers need to support agile connectivity on-demand with assured service quality. Leveraging our clearinghouse capabilities, Neustar service fulfillment and order orchestration solutions are enabling service providers to deliver new services spanning multiple providers.

By providing a single, universal interface for processing industry-standard and non-standard service orders between service provider trading partners, Neustar is helping carriers dramatically simplify the ordering and orchestration process and accelerate quote-to-cash.

To learn more about our Service Fulfillment and Orchestration solutions please visit www.ordermanagement.neustar.

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