TM Forum claims its ‘Open API’ initiative is getting traction

via Flickr © chipgriffin (CC BY 2.0)

via Flickr © chipgriffin (CC BY 2.0)

  • The TM Forum has developed a suit of 50 REST APIs for OSS/BSS integration
  • The APIs take away a lot of the application integration pain
  • So far 53 telcos and technology vendors worldwide have signed up

TM Forum is claiming victory for its ‘Open API’ approach for digital services management,  first announced in 2016. The idea of fostering a set of APIs (Application Program Interfaces) was initiated as part of the TM Forum’s own transformation which saw its Open Digital Architecture posited to replace the traditional operational and business support systems (OSS/BSS) architectures. Instead, the idea was to foster an industry-agreed, architectural blueprint for zero-touch, software-defined operations and a de facto standard for open digital platforms. 

It was very necessary. The OSS/BSS sector has traditionally been bedevilled with incompatible, proprietary solutions for things like billing systems, service activation, network management and the like. These applications would often require months of expensive integration work to get them working in concert. 

The new architecture is underpinned byTM Forum’s suite of over 50 REST-based Open APIs which enable end-to-end seamless connectivity, interoperability and portability, the organisation claims.

Now the open API approach is making real progress with telcos. So far, 53 telcos and technology vendors worldwide have signed TM Forum’s “Open API Manifesto” to encourage Open API uptake. 

And, claims TM Forum, some telcos are choosing to directly implement the Open APIs themselves when transforming their legacy IT systems, rather than rely on their vendor partners to lead the way. 

“We’re applying DevOps techniques to the implementation of the APIs; they’re not static but are deliberately designed to be configurable and extensible and it’s in the extension that you put the product specific information,” explains the TM Forum’s VP of Architecture and APIs, George Glass.  

“The  basic structure of the API remains consistent so in that way you take away a lot of the integration pain that’s been around for many, many years previously. Ultimately we want to move to a lego block plug and play scenario.”

The forum claims that 13 of the world’s biggest telcos and vendors are now supporting the  Open API & Open Digital Architecture Manifesto. Accenture, Axiata, China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, CSG, Etiya, Globe Telecom, MyRepublic, Openet, Orange, SigScale and Vodafone – have all agreed to endorse and drive the industry towards a radical uplift in IT agility and software architecture, and stand behind zero-touch interoperability and partnering.

“It’s all coming together nicely now,” says George, “and I think we’re about to see a fairly seismic shift in the way networks are managed as they become software controlled.”

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