AT&T, Orange, Colt to jointly develop SDN-based business API standards

AT&T, Orange, and Colt have teamed up with the MEF and TM Forum to create what they say is the first set of application programming interfaces (APIs) for orchestrated Carrier Ethernet services.

Set to be released later this year, the initiative uses MEF's LSO (Lifecycle Service Orchestration) framework and TM Forum's Open API framework.

All three of the carriers involved in this new effort have been driving adoption of SDN throughout the telecom and IT industries.

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AT&T and Orange Business Services have been collaborating on developing standardized APIs that will enable SDN architectures from different network service providers to interoperate with each other. Meanwhile, AT&T and Colt held the first successful SDN interoperability trial proving that SDN architectures from different network service providers can interoperate with each other across continents.

After a successful proof of concept, these companies in tandem with MEF and TM Forum plan to accelerate efforts to develop a set of standardized APIs for industry-wide use. 

Upon completion at the end of this year, service providers will be able to use standardized APIs to work with each other's SDN architectures in near-real time. The group said this “is a key step toward enabling orchestrated on-demand services over more automated and interconnected networks.”

The group plans to standardize 8 API definitions: Address validation, Service availability, Ordering, Quoting, Billing, Assurance, Testing, and Change management. Building upon the industry-agreed Open APIs developed by TM Forum members, the first 3 APIs will be defined in the first round of the project this year.

A key focus of the collaboration is driving simplicity. Up till now, every service provider uses different systems and interfaces to manage different aspects of its networks. This creates friction and inefficiency when providing an end-to-end service.

These APIs will allow businesses to provision network services on-demand through software platforms like ECOMP. ECOMP is now open-sourced through the Linux Foundation and will be used as a reference implementation for LSO APIs.

In particular, this collaboration will help drive the availability and delivery of on-demand Ethernet services. AT&T and Colt have been actively expanding the reach of their on-demand Ethernet services across their respective footprints.

As part of its growing SDN-enabled on-demand services portfolio, Colt recently introduced an on-demand Ethernet service that allows enterprise customers to get service out of over 5,000 enterprise buildings and 200 data centers that are currently eligible across 11 countries in Europe. Colt also plans to further expand its reach to additional locations during 2017, including Asia.

AT&T, meanwhile, has been leading the on-demand Ethernet charge. The service provider delivers its network on-demand available in over 170 markets, with plans to offer it in more markets this year.

"Our research shows that the number one issue impeding the delivery of on-demand services is the need for a standardized approach to orchestrating services across multiple provider networks," said Rosemary Cochran, principal of Vertical Systems Group in a release. "This initiative led by industry leaders to collaboratively standardize on APIs for Ethernet services is an essential step toward tackling this challenge."