ATIS, MEF develop global Carrier Ethernet ordering pact

ATIS and MEF have joined hands to develop a new global specification for service providers to order wholesale Carrier Ethernet services.

The new specification, which is known as Ethernet Ordering Technical Specification: Business Requirements and Use Cases (PDF), is focused on giving service providers a common method to purchase services from one another across multiple countries to satisfy a business customer’s multisite business needs.

“By having ATIS and MEF work together, we’re able to bring together the business process expertise and the technical expertise for global Ethernet ordering,” said Dawn Kaplan, MEF operations area co-director and solutions architect, CoE OSS for Ericsson, in an interview with FierceTelecom. “We were able to figure out how to take a MEF technical specification, which are written from a network deployment perspective, and take the business process side of the order cycle and extrapolate the technical spec up to a higher level to enable an order between service providers.”  

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MEF’s latest specification supports requirements defined in the Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) Reference Architecture and Framework (MEF 55) for ordering services over the LSO Sonata interface that relates to interprovider service orchestration. Kaplan said that the end game is about making the ordering and provisioning process for wholesale Ethernet easier.

“This is focused on the Sonata interface between the service provider and partner domain so we can streamline and enhance how service providers order those off-net services from other partners to deliver the end-to-end service to their customer,” Kaplan said.

E-Line, E-Access focus

Initially, the MEF/ATIS joint Ethernet Ordering Technical Specification will focus on business interactions associated with intercarrier ordering of Access E-Line and Standalone UNI products, including use cases and specific MEF-defined attributes needed to support product ordering for each use case. Implementation details will be published separately in MEF’s LSO Sonata Interface Profile Specification for Ethernet Ordering that is on track to be released later this year.

“Our primary focus has been on Access E-Line and standalone UNI port configurations because those are the biggest pain points,” Kaplan said. “Service providers have said that very often they need to go and get that last connection from someone else so they need that OVC or access E-Line service deployed.”

Letty Walker, senior lead analyst, OSS & technical support for CenturyLink and joint ATIS-MEF co-lead, said the new specification will enable it to shorten timelines to order Ethernet services when carriers have to satisfy an off-net customer location.

However, MEF and ATIS will add other service profiles over time. ATIS and MEF are continuing in their joint efforts to enhance the international Ethernet Ordering process and plan further releases to incorporate additional MEF-defined services such as Ethernet transit and E-Tree.

“We addressed the biggest pain through access E-Line, which gives them the biggest bulk of the ordering process that’s there,” Walker said. “We will continue to address other Ethernet ordering options through the MEF defined processes.”

At the same time, the joint ATIS/MEF work will look at the use cases for the entire wholesale Ethernet ordering lifecycle, including status, service changes or cancellations.  

“We found about eight use cases that solve the end-to-end order lifecycle,” Kaplan said. “We focus on those use cases and identifying the attributes associated with each one.”

Common global platform

While the United States has an established Access Service Request (ASR) process to order wholesale Ethernet, one of the key issues that becomes a problem is that addresses in other countries are not listed the same way.

Service providers establishing E-NNI agreements with international providers or international providers creating agreements with U.S. carriers have had to create specific arrangements each time they needed to purchase Ethernet connectivity.

Kaplan said that while the ASR process has worked well between U.S.-based Ethernet providers, it does not translate well in international settings.

“If a service provider like CenturyLink needs to go into an area where they don’t have a current point of presence, they will go off-net in the U.S. or internationally and they want a standard way to do that,” Kaplan said. “We have a rigorous process to do it in the U.S., which is the ASR, but the ASR does not scale well internationally.”

Walker said ATIS and MEF have developed a new specification in tandem with international provider partners that will enable any service provider to have a common ordering process.  

“Developing a common standard using what ATIS has known in ordering and partnering with international service providers has allowed us to develop a one-stop process that everyone can use so we can all commonly order from each other,” Walker said. “It does speed up the process so we can all turn up service quicker.”

Now that MEF and ATIS have created what is effectively a business process that allows sales teams to begin a dialogue with fellow carrier partners, the next step is to develop the technical specifications.

“You have to go through an on-boarding process and agree on how to work together,” Kaplan said. “Having that up front business requirements document that lays out how the process is separate from what the bits and bytes to transfer the message back and forth.”

Going forward, MEF and ATIS are developing the data model and APIs to implement new ordering agreements. Additionally, the two groups are creating the next specification that Kaplan said will address the additional MEF services.

This latest global ordering platform builds on previous work MEF and ATIS did to update the ASR ordering process for wholesale Ethernet.

In 2015, ATIS and MEF completed joint work to update the ASR ordering process to fully support MEF-defined Carrier Ethernet services. The ASR enhancements, which were implemented in the ATIS OBF Access Service Ordering Guidelines Version 50, were designed to speed service deployment by giving service providers a standards-based guide to automate and operationalize their MEF service offerings.