At MEF17, Zeetta Networks played a part in making the MEF’s Lifecycle Service Orchestration Architecture a reality. This architecture enables an agile approach to streamlining and automating the service lifecycle, so that network service providers can achieve a paradigm shift away from the current situation.

At the moment, services are essentially viewed as static and are provisioned with a high number of manual interactions across many days or even weeks. MEF’s vision is to create a world in which services can be provisioned or modified in minutes using a completely automated infrastructure, even where multiple service providers are involved.

Principal architect and engineering lead Crispin Dent-Young, and senior software engineer Leonardo Milleri participated in the Hackathon bringing with them our innovative NetOS® software defined technology integrated with MEF’s own open source code.  They spent three days with20 engineers working to extend the Lifecycle Service Orchestration Architecture code and inform the ongoing design work.

Crispin explains:

“MEF have been quite radical in that they have extrapolated the agile software development methodology into their approach to creating their new standards – instead of spending years defining and agreeing standards documents, and then waiting for vendors to implement them. They are using events like the Hackathon to write reference software in parallel with the standards. The code is useful not only as an example, but also because it allows us to try things and out and feed back improvements into the standards as they are being defined.”

In the Hackathon, the Zeetta Networks team focussed on extending the capabilities of NetOS® to implement additional functions of the MEF LSO Architectures Presto API. The Presto API defines the services for provisioning network connectivity and is of particular interest to Zeetta.

As Crispin explains: “The ability to provide connectivity is of course the most fundamental service a network can offer. Being able to provide this as a service that treats the network as a black box, insulating the requestor from the details of the underlying technology, and the vendors used to implement it, is a positive step.”

“But what really excites us in Zeetta Networks are the novel features that allow advanced users to look inside that black box, to see the implementation details within.”

This enables users to specify their connections at a lower level if required. For example, it is normal for a network to be divided into different technology domains, such as packet and optical, which are independently provisioned – so that the packet layer will view the optical layer as black box which offers pre-provisioned connections.

The Presto API gives the advanced user the option to peek inside the optical domain, and select the optical links for itself. We think this kind of API is a great way to leverage our core intellectual and code assets in slicing and multi-technology networking, so Crispin and Leonardo were excited to make this layered model available.

However, things did not go entirely to plan – as Crispin reveals:

“We were the first people to try to make serious use of this functionality, and when we tried to write the code we discovered that we had a problem: we didn’t have enough information to determine how to group the devices into domains and sub-domains. Talking it through with the other engineers there, we realised that domains really exist in the mind of the operator, so we needed a new APIs to allow the operator to define these.

It’s a radical discovery from a cutting edge hackathon, and Crispin and Leonardo were pleased to gain this knowledge from practical implementation: “This is a great demonstration of the value of doing Hackathon projects: it found an issue with the definition of the standard which we could take back to the group in charge of the definition, we made incredible progress this year, directly contributing to the global understanding of Lifecycle Service Orchestration Architecture, and we’ll be back next year to push the boundaries further!”

Find out more details about this year’s hackathon here