AT&T apparently has become the first telecom service provider to put the MEF's Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) framework into practice as it launches an automated tool for its wholesale customers to qualify Ethernet services. (See AT&T Wholesale Unit Automates Ethernet Qualifying.)
The new process builds on two AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) application program interfaces (APIs) and enables AT&T Wholesale Solutions' customers to replace the often tedious and time-consuming process of figuring out what AT&T Switched Ethernet services are available at a given customer site with an automated process that can happen in minutes, and cover hundreds of sites at a time.
AT&T is working across its services to introduce greater automation, notes Dan Blemings, director of Ethernet product management for AT&T Global and Business Solutions. For this process, it found that MEF 55, the LSO framework recently introduced, provided the best approach. (See MEF Launches Lifecycle Service Orchestration Report and MEF Redefining Its Role.)
"In layman's terms, it's a picture of what it needs to look like in order to have two service providers to have a connection between them and qualify a site," he tells Light Reading in an interview. "We looked at that and we thought it made sense. And if you want to foster standardization and create an ecosystem of service providers qualifying each other, why not start there? And that's what we did."
Using MEF's flow for how the interaction should work, AT&T created its own software code built within that framework, and created the necessary APIs. Now when wholesale customers want to participate, there is an onboarding process that can happen fairly quickly, Blemings says, and then they are ready to go with automated qualification.
The next step will be automating the provisioning process to make Ethernet services on-demand for wholesale customers the way they are today for AT&T's retail customers. Blemings says that process is in the works, but there isn't yet a time frame for its release.
The first wholesale customer -- Birch Communications -- is already up and running on the automated qualification system and there are "a handful" of other customers up and running as well, with several more now in the onboarding process, Blemings says.
Ultimately, using an industry standard to create the capability will pay off for AT&T if it rallies more service providers to adopt this approach. "Our network is massive, but it's not omnipresent," he says. "Outside our network, we need to partner with other providers to turn up services. Having them be able to qualify services for us very quickly is something we would like as well. We are hopeful this will be helpful for the entire ecosystem of Ethernet providers."
MEF CTO Pascal Menezes calls the deployment "an industry-leading development" in the press release.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading