Automation and network programmability are key concepts in the evolution of telecom networks. Architecture designed with high degrees of automation and network programmability can rapidly adapt to emerging requirements, and as such improve operational efficiency and time to market for new services.

A number of enabling technologies, like virtualization and SDN, are shaping the way network architecture is evolving. The direction these technologies are moving toward is getting to the point where networks can be offered as programmable services. But to do this requires a cost-efficient way to connect services – and eventually resources – from the various administrative domains like transport into logical network instances.

Based on the principles of separation of concerns, abstraction and exposure of capabilities, multi-tenancy and programmability, future networks will need to be fully programmable.

Full network programmability for a network and its services needs to consider all the building blocks: how each piece of the network will evolve; how they will interface; and how they support the structure and business processes of an operator. But to achieve such levels of flexibility requires the inter-domain interfaces as well as the domains to evolve.

For example, SDN technologies are key enabling tools for network programmability, but to provide value they must be integrated with the end-to-end process view of the operator. Cloud orchestration technologies are also important enablers, but without proper interfaces to business management functions in place, the result would be a technically functional but commercially dysfunctional system.

This Ericsson Review article describes the big picture of a target ecosystem, presenting an architecture description that focuses on the inter-domain interfaces, separation of concerns as well as network programmability.

Architecture evolution for automation and network programmability

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