Warakorn - Fotolia
MEF published the Sonata and Presto APIs and said it would work together with the Open Network Automation Platform to determine how automation and orchestration can be managed in software-based environments using MEF APIs as a foundation. The groups made the announcements this week at the SDN NFV World Congress in The Hague, Netherlands.
"MEF and ONAP both see a future where we have services delivered by service providers that span multiple operators, operator domains and technology domains -- such as 5G, optical, packet WAN and so on," said Daniel Bar-Lev, MEF's director for the office of the CTO.
To operate efficiently, providers need these services to be automated and orchestrated, he added. By aligning their approaches -- ONAP from the implementation side and MEF from the conceptual definition side -- he said the organizations can provide end-to-end service consistency and avoid market fragmentation.
Keeping silos to a minimum
"But we need to be aware that with so many organizations, players, projects and acronyms, we don't simply get rid of old silos and create new silos," Bar-Lev said. "Because if everybody's doing things their own way, then all we do is create new islands of implementation that will need to be joined up."
MEF, formerly known as the Metro Ethernet Forum, represents service providers worldwide. ONAP, a Linux Foundation project, focuses on projects designed to help service providers employ automation, virtual functions and other technologies within their operations.
Combined, the two groups have more than 250 members -- a number that forms a good portion of the market, according to Bar-Lev. Part of the collaboration includes an agreement between MEF and ONAP on a defined set of northbound APIs -- such as MEF's previously published LSO Legato APIs -- that will be used for any ONAP instantiation, he said.
"When we've achieved that, it means whoever uses ONAP can then also take advantage of all the east-west APIs we're defining, because ONAP doesn't deal with east-west -- it really focuses on a single operational domain," he said.
The two groups will focus on APIs for now, moving to federated information models and security and policy objectives in the future, Bar-Lev said.
MEF releases LSO Sonata and Presto APIs and SDKs
Earlier this week, MEF released two of its open APIs within its Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) Reference Architecture and Framework. The Sonata and Presto APIs and their corresponding software development kits (SDKs) are now available for use among MEF service-provider members and other associated MEF programs.
The LSO Sonata API will be used to reduce the time it takes for a service provider to check or order connectivity from an operator. Today, that process is often performed manually, and it can take months. Sonata automates how these requests are handled, thereby significantly reducing the time frame, Bar-Lev said.
Some larger operators have already implemented machine-to-machine automation, Bar-Lev said, but there is no consensus describing how the required APIs should look. This means those operators need to "reinvent the wheel" for each new part of the process, he added.
MEF service-provider members, including AT&T, Orange and Colt Technology Services, worked with MEF and its LSO framework over a six-month period to determine the best ways to take advantage of the new APIs.
"They reached the consensus and created SDK material that is useful for service-provider IT departments throughout the world to take as starting points to see how they would adapt their back-end system to take advantage of these APIs," Bar-Lev said.
"It takes an abstracted, horizontal layered approach, which means when you orchestrate, it doesn't matter which technology domain you have or which vendor you have," he said. "Instead of developing multiple APIs per vendor, per technology domain -- which isn't scalable -- you're able to use these well-defined APIs," Bar-Lev said.
MEF members have already used the Presto API in implementations with OpenDaylight and Open Network Operating System, he added.
Explore two SD-WAN service models
ETSI addresses NFV specifications with APIs
Find out where NFV standards stand