& cplSiteName &

TM Forum Crowdsourcing Open APIs

Carol Wilson
12/19/2016
50%
50%

The TM Forum today announced 13 new open APIs as part of its ongoing effort to enable telecom operators to expose digital assets as services, without the encumbrance of legacy back-office systems. And this time around, the global standards group is taking a crowdsourcing approach to a process it once tightly managed, with hopes of working much faster.

The Open API program has been in the works for three years but was publicly unveiled last May at TM Forum Live! in Nice, where the original nine service provider backers were on hand. Today, 17 service providers are on board, but the Forum is expecting a couple of hundred to sign on by 2018, with mounting pressure on operators to find new revenue in the digital services realm. (See 9 Global Telcos Back Open APIs Scheme.)

Today's announcement was part of a broader upgrade to TM Forum 's Frameworx standards and best practices that include updates as well to Agile IT and Internet of Things initiatives. Continual upgrades to Frameworx is not a new thing, but the way these Open APIs are being created is different, says Joann O'Brien, vice president of Collaborative R&D at the Forum.

The Open API program itself was born of recognition within the Forum that it needed both shorter lifecycles for its API development and more lightweight REST-based APIs if it was going to help its network operator members more rapidly expose digital assets within their networks, and capture digital services revenues in the process. In the first two years of the program, the TM Forum developed what O'Brien calls "crisply defined APIs like trouble-ticketing and catalog management" covering well-known functions. (See Mapping Open APIs With TM Forum.)

Beginning last summer with its Action Week in Vancouver, the Forum focused on "being able to crowdsource APIs and then govern and manage the scaling up of that effort," O'Brien tells Light Reading in an interview. "We have put that in place and the APIs that come out this week are the first proof point of that effort."

That means that any member company can propose an API in a particular space or bring their own management API to the forum as a suggested industry standard.

"They propose it and then it goes through a process to make sure it is not bespoke to that company, but genuinely fit as a generic API that will work for everybody," she tells Light Reading. "And then we build out the Swagger and the Postman and the other complimenting assets and make it a package, which fundamentally makes it usable."

For those not fluent in app-speak, Swagger specifies the RESTful contract for a given API including the details of its resources and operations so it can be used in developments and integrated into other assets as well. Postman is a toolchain for API developers to make it easier to document, test, monitor and share APIs.

As part of this process, the TM Forum has its own specs for documenting, describing and defining the API.

"Then we build the reference implementation which is executable, and we also now create what we call an API conformance profile that tells you, for every feature of the API, if it is it mandatory or optional," O'Brien says. That last step is critical because it informs decisions by operators on how they can modify or extend what they do with that API, while maintaining interoperability.


Want to know more about NFV and Open Source strategies? Check out our dedicated NFV content channel here on Light Reading.


Interoperability is an ongoing theme for TM Forum, but in the digital services world, it is taking on new meaning. Network operators know it is not enough to develop their own services faster -- they need to be able to interconnect with other operators to deliver new services over a global footprint, beyond anything a single service provider can offer. Thus, specific carriers have some efforts underway to connect -- AT&T and Colt for example -- but most want to see that process done on a broader scale. (See AT&T: MEF Could Catalyze Key Specs, AT&T, Colt Claim Major SDN Advance and MEF, TM Forum Unite With Open Source Groups on Network Vision.)

The TM Forum is one of the groups stepping up to that challenge, along with the MEF and others, and hoping to approach it in an open source manner. This week's announcement includes the first of what O'Brien calls conformance test kits that can be used in automating API testing. (See TM Forum Wants Role of Open Source Glue.)

"We are also building what we call a conformance test kit -- so they will be able to execute the server side of API against that," O'Brien says. "And if we automatically generate a report for them, it will state 'pass' or 'fail', or where it passed or where it failed against the conformance profile. The first of those is in the Frameworx release going out this week and we are currently running pilots on those."

Vendors with whom the Forum is working till be rolling out conformance test kits over the next few months. The organization is also working to make product and service APIs more generic, for re-use with virtualized network functions.

O'Brien says the Open APIs being announced this week include "some less obvious ones" such as a new loyalty management API, as well as major new features such as a change management API and a new service program management API.

The response from the industry has been very strong, she maintains, with service providers pushing to see this work get done sooner rather than later -- thus the expectation of rapid growth of the program in coming months.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
From The Founder
NFV's promises of automation and virtualization are intriguing, but what really excites service providers is the massive amount of money they could save.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
VMWare VP Brings Women Up With Her

8|16|17   |   6:49   |   (1) comment


It's an art and a science to make mentorship, inclusive leadership, diversity and promotion of high-potential women work, says Honore' LaBourdette, vice president of Global Market Development at VMWare.
LRTV Documentaries
5G Spectrum Wars – The Recap

8|15|17   |   2:22   |   (0) comments


Service provider 3 has filed a lawsuit against Ofcom over 5G spectrum auction in the UK.
LRTV Custom TV
Say What? Facebook Unleashes AI Anarchy – The Recap

8|7|17   |     |   (0) comments


A recap of the week's talking points on Light Reading's sister site, telecoms.com. Facebook AI programmers had a bit of a brain-fade as they allowed one of its AI applications to invent its ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Fujitsu's Women Band Together to Help Girls Do STEM

8|2|17   |   9:35   |   (1) comment


Supporting women both inside and outside of Fujitsu is a top priority of the telecom vendor. Yanbing Li, Fujitsu Network Communication's director of System Software Development & Delivery, shares why it's important, but why there's still a long road ahead.
LRTV Custom TV
If You're Not First, You're Last – The Recap

7|31|17   |   08:18   |   (1) comment


In case you missed it, Amazon's 1% stock increase helped Jeff Bezos dethrone Bill Gates as the richest man in the world. Also, Taiwanese electronics manufacturer
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
AT&T's Tech President Preps Workforce for the Future

7|26|17   |   5:47   |   (10) comments


AT&T is focused on the software-defined network of the future and is reskilling its workforce to get ready too, according to AT&T's President of Technology Development Melissa Arnoldi.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Cisco: Mentoring Critical to Attract & Retain Women

7|19|17   |   6:40   |   (1) comment


Liz Centoni, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Computing System Product Group, shares why mentoring in all its forms is important for women and what Cisco is doing that's made a difference for women in tech.
LRTV Custom TV
Gigabit LTE With Snapdragon 835

7|12|17   |     |   (1) comment


At an event in Wembley stadium, EE used its live network to demonstrate gigabit LTE using a Sony Xperia XZ Premium smartphone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip.
LRTV Custom TV
Implementing Machine Intelligence With Guavus

7|12|17   |     |   (0) comments


Guavus unites big data and machine intelligence, enabling many of the the largest service providers in the world to save money and drive measureable revenue. Learn how applying Machine Intelligence substantially reduces operational costs and in many cases can eliminate subscriber impact, meaning a better subscriber experience and higher NPS.
LRTV Custom TV
Unlocking Customer Experience Insights With Machine Intelligence

7|12|17   |     |   (0) comments


When used to analyze operational data and to drive operational decisions, machine intelligence reduces the number of tasks which require human intervention. Guavus invested in Machine Intelligence early. Learn about the difference between Machine Learning and Machine Intelligence.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Verizon VP Talks Network, Career Planning

7|12|17   |   4:49   |   (0) comments


Heidi Hemmer, vice president of Technology, Strategy & Planning at Verizon, shares how bold bets and the future of tech define her career.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Masergy's NFV Journey

7|11|17   |     |   (0) comments


Ray Watson, vice president of global technology at Masergy, discusses the advantages and challenges in entering the still-maturing NFV market for the past three years.
Upcoming Live Events
September 28, 2017, Denver, CO
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Royal Garden Hotel
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, UK
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Intel CEO Leaves Trump Biz Advisory Board
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 8/15/2017
Are Cord-Cutting's Days Numbered?
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 8/14/2017
Orchestration Startup UBiqube Pivots Away From NFV
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 8/15/2017
Verizon Video Woes Pile On
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 8/14/2017
Eurobites: KPN Buys Into Healthcare Sector
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 8/16/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Animals with Phones
We Know a Tough Day When We See One Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.