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August 18, 2017 by Phil Fine

Leverage Modern SOA Programming to Accelerate Automation


If you’ve read my recent posts, you understand how critical automation is to operational efficiency and providing an exceptional subscriber experience. Taken together, they enable subscribers to acquire the services they want, when they want them, and with the quality that matches their expectations. Unfortunately, automation is achieved through back office systems integration, one of the costliest and time-consuming aspects of deploying new equipment and services.

New web-inspired software design principles are simplifying integration. Service-oriented architecture, or SOA, is a software design method in which “services” are exposed over a network to provide discrete functions that can be accessed remotely. Need an example? Your restaurant guide smartphone app (such as Yelp) makes SOA patterned API calls to the GPS app for geo location. The restaurant app doesn’t configure the GPS app; it requests a location “service.”

Network services are no different in principle. In an SOA model, service objects are separated from the network resources providing the service. Business and residential Internet access, IPTV, VoIP, and other network services can be automated using SOA design patterns.

While automation is not new to service providers, application of SOA principles to network management and control interfaces is. In the past, domain-specific interfaces SNMP, CORBA, TL1, and CLI – none of which have standardized data models – tied proprietary access networks to proprietary operations systems.

Interface standardization is an absolute necessity to reach the full value of SDN. To this end, SDN leverages NetConf and OpenFlow protocols to expose network services in a fully programmable and open manner. SOA principles apply in two areas:

  • the network systems themselves
  • the software layer north of those systems used to control the delivery of network services

When done correctly, application of SOA eliminates highly proprietary cryptic command sets in favor of simple service-oriented abstractions that enable network automation.

The Calix AXOS platform and SMx connector implement service-oriented interfaces that simplify integration, and reduce the time to introduce new technologies after initial integration. AXOS leverages NetConf and standard YANG object models to abstract services into named templates that reduce complexity for network programmers.

Activate further abstracts services and simplifies their association to subscribers and equipment using REST APIs. As an important side benefit, Calix has greatly expanded the population of programmers available for network service and business application automation.

The need to automate the deployment of network services has never been greater. Calix has implemented its AXOS SOA interfaces using the latest technologies to help service providers get there faster.