Spirent pushes forward on automation, joins intercarrier demo at MEF18

Spirent will be taking part in an intercarrier proof-of-concept demonstration at next week's MEF18 conference in Los Angeles that was designed to speed up the process of turning on services by using automation.

The proof-of-concept is one of several that MEF has lined up at is conference around its Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) APIs. LSO APIs, such as Sonata and Presto, allow service providers to reach out from their own footprints to provide services across other carriers' software-defined networks.

In addition to Spirent, Tata Communications, Liquid Telecom, ECI, Amartus, and Sparkle will also participate in the “Fulfillment and Activation of an Intercontinental MEF 3.0 Service Spanning Four Operators" PoC using the LSO Presto API for automated network resource provisioning.

"The proof of concept is really about automation, and how multiple vendors can work together to automate services all the way from service creation down into making sure that a service is up and running," said Spirent's Jay Stewart, principal product manager, who leads  Spirent's work in network virtualization and automation, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "Our part of that is to use this API as part of the process to automatically test and ensure that the quality of that circuit that's been turned up is in place so that the user can start using that circuit. You have to be able to work outside of your footprint.

"As part of that, they want to get those services out in seconds or days instead of weeks and months. The goal here is to show that with these interfaces and LSO APIs in place you can actually do it in a matter of seconds."

MEF released SDKs for Sonata and Presto last year. Since then, Colt and Verizon have announced they would have an inter-carrier Ethernet service across each other's footprints sometime this year using the LSO Sonata API. Earlier this year, Epsilon teamed up with China's DCConnect on two-way, intercarrier network orchestration across each other's networks using an API that Epsilon developed.

Also next week at MEF18, Colt and Zeetta Networks will put LSO Sonata through its paces in a marketplace blockchain PoC demonstration. The goal of that PoC is to show that carriers can buy and sell their network services in a secure marketplace by using blockchain, which in turn will lower the cost of business-to-business transactions.

Spirent's the name, and automation is the game

Spirent, which was founded in London in 1936, is branching out of its role as a traditional testing and service assurance vendor in order to better attune itself with carriers' needs, which includes virtualization and automation.

RELATED: Promise made: Spirent uncloaks new strategic business initiative

"The problem with automation is with enough time and money, you could automate anything," Stewart said. "That worked okay for very high-value automation, and very static services. People talk about virtualization, and when they went to virtualization it was really just porting code over. But if you learn from the web services guys, it's really not about virtualization. It's really about do you build your software? There are a lot of open standards and open ways that you should use to build your software to make it easy to automate."

Stewart said that automaton should include building the software from the ground up, and then using and sharing open APIs. As an example, Stewart said a Spirent customer integrated its software and open APIs with open source, Swagger-based APIs.

"In one instance, we were actually able to leverage our software in a couple hours and in another case it was about a day," Stewart said. "So they could automate it very quickly, and if they need to make changes, they can do that quickly as well. In the past, automation would take three to six months.

"A lot of automation depends on how do you build your software. How do you share the APIs? How do you make the API open to whoever wants to use them, so that they can automate with it? And then they're not boxed into it if changes have to take place. That's what we're seeing is a big difference now."