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Many enterprises are implementing technologies such as cloud services, mobility, and the Internet of Things (IoT) to maintain a competitive edge and meet soaring customer demands. These technologies all place intense pressure on existing wide area networks (WANs). As a result, enterprises are counting on software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) to deliver added capacity and agility, improved application performance and security, enhanced cloud services, and reduced costs.
These have also become a quick, secure VPN for work-from-home situations, due to their ability to leverage low-cost broadband internet. But SD-WAN and SASE are only as good as the underlying network. High-speed broadband connectivity is crucial for enterprises to cost-effectively share applications, policies, and procedures across all connection points; however, ordering broadband remains a slow and outdated process.
True SASE architecture requires end-to-end automation and orchestration—service providers offering on-demand services to customers will need to deliver broadband and off-net services in as close to a zero-touch manner as possible.
MEF, a global industry association of network, cloud, and technology providers driving network transformation, is working on resolving this issue with a set of standardized LSO Sonata APIs that address the business-to-business layer of inter-provider interactions, like quoting, ordering and inventory. As a MEF member, Neustar understands firsthand the importance of making sure order management systems leverage these new standards—service providers who are unable to do so will fall behind the competition over time.
Standardized APIs Enable Inter-Provider Service Automation
New research from MEF indicates a growing number of service providers are embracing standardized LSO Sonata APIs for automation of inter-provider business functions that will enable them to accelerate service delivery, speed time to revenue, and improve customer experience. Twenty-nine companies are either in production with LSO Sonata or intend to be by the end of 2023, including twenty-three by the end of June 2022.
The pace of the transition to LSO Sonata APIs has picked up significantly with the recent “Billie” LSO SDK Release, which now provides a robust set of APIs for address validation, site query, product offering qualification, quote, product order, product inventory, and trouble ticket.
While LSO Sonata APIs initially enable automation of Carrier Ethernet services, MEF currently plans to support automated Internet Access in a future LSO SDK release.
Broadband Ordering Challenges
One reason behind MEF’s work on standardizing inter-provider APIs is that extending broadband coverage over several different site geographies can get very complicated, due to a total lack of ordering standards when service is needed outside a provider’s network footprint. The more sites to be connected, the more labor-intensive and unwieldy the process becomes.
For example, if a service provider has a customer with hundreds of locations—many will fall within its network footprint, but there might be 50, 100, 200, or more that do not. The provider may have to deal with dozens or even hundreds of wholesale broadband suppliers to serve these off-net locations. Just finding which providers serve which locations can be a challenge. Then comes the quoting process. And, when it comes time to place an order, each supplier has their own unique set of standards, terminology, order formats, delivery schedules, and procedures. This makes the process extremely complex and time-consuming, raising many concerns, such as how to:
- Find the right suppliers quickly within a market of more than 2,300 fixed, in-ground suppliers and 1,900 fixed wireless suppliers
- Streamline the cumbersome process of managing quotes and connecting with suppliers
- Accurately and efficiently turn a quote into an order in a format that the supplier understands
- Determine whether the order is proceeding according to the required timeline
- Analyze whether suppliers are complying with contracted terms
In Neustar’s recent service provider survey, 92% of respondents said having a streamlined and automated system for ordering wholesale broadband is vital to help decrease network deployment times and protect margins. Without such a system, providers report experiencing major ordering challenges such as:
- 7+ weeks to complete order cycles
- 15% order cancellations due to missing or inaccurate data
- 40% average project manager’s workday spent addressing customer inquiries
Broadband access is experiencing a revolution, and SD-WAN is just one of the drivers. As the industry experiences more software-controlled service chains, networks will become even more complicated, extending beyond networks-as-a-service to slices of networks-as-a-service. If buying and supplying individual connections is challenging, consider the impact of purchasing end-to-end slices from dozens of networks.
Transforming Broadband Ordering
To address this growing issue, service providers must remediate these outdated back-office processes and embrace an open ecosystem of intercarrier trading partners. By migrating to an automated broadband ordering system that is built upon MEF’s industry best practices and standards, service providers will reduce order timelines and handling costs, and their enterprise customers will benefit from faster service with fewer errors and delays. Automation, paired with open APIs and a cloud-based workflow specifically designed to reduce intercarrier complexity, provides a long list of service provider benefits:
- Find ideal suppliers fast on a per-location basis
- Centrally manage all partners and serviceable locations
- Support all wholesale access technologies and order types from one platform
- Obtain supplier quotes instantly and eliminate delays leading to lost business
- Reduce duplication and order entry errors
- Speed order submission by auto-populating standard data fields
- Increase order visibility and tracking
- Connect to other systems through Open APIs / REST interface
- Improve decision making with analytics and reporting
When service providers, software solution providers like Neustar, and organizations like MEF work together to solve industry problems, everyone benefits.
Learn more about MEF’s work in SASE and SD-WAN.
Neustar is an information services and technology company and a leader in identity resolution providing the data and technology that enables trusted connections between companies and people at the moments that matter most. To learn more about how to transform wholesale broadband ordering, read Neustar’s whitepaper, “SD-WAN: Avoiding Costly Pitfalls When Ordering Broadband for Critical Underlay Networks.”Tags: LSO API Framework Release Billie, LSO APIs