Alan Weissberger Networking Software Defined Network

Is Lifecycle Services Orchestration (LSO) Ready for Large Scale Deployments & Where?

By Alan J Weissberger and Kaustubha Parkhi


MEF is developing LSO (Lifecycle Services Orchestration) specifications in order to automate the entire lifecycle for services orchestrated across multiple provider networks and multiple technology domains within a single provider network. LSO, with open APIs, enables network service providers to transition from a silo-structured BSS/OSS approach towards flexible end-to-end orchestration that unleashes the value of SDN, NFV, and other software control of networks.

Standardized and open LSO APIs are critical for enabling agile, assured, and orchestrated services over automated, virtualized, and interconnected networks worldwide.

LSO is particularly important for industry growth because it will enable the creation of a worldwide ecosystem of connected networks that support orchestrated connectivity and NFV-based services. These services have the potential to dramatically reshape the industry landscape and fuel a whole new wave of productivity-enhancing innovations.

MEF currently is building upon the LSO Reference Architecture to advance work related to LSO interfaces, standardized open APIs, operational processes, and information models required for orchestrating services across multiple providers and multiple technology domains.  LSO Capabilities are depicted in the illustration below:

Figure 1, LSO Capabilities

Kaustubha Parkhi’s Thoughts on LSO:

Last week’s Layer123 Network Transformation Congress had several presentations that referenced LSO.  One of those was by Kaustubha Parkhi of Insight Research (Bangalore, India) who said this:

“There is no doubt that LSO is essential. Equally essential is the pruning of its objectives and scope, which becomes a bit overwhelming at times. The objectives, in their present form, are so broad-based that they cover everything from billing functions to network equipment deployment.  That translates into complexity overload and too much to absorb for a specific implementation.

LSO reminds us of the story of the “blind man and the elephant” (see Figure 1. below), where the elephant stands for LSO, and its various parts can be mistaken (wrongly or otherwise) for existing well-established solutions that LSO appears to be reinventing.

Kindly consider the following illustrations:

LSOP is described by this image.
Figure 2; This is what LSO is

But the intent of LSO seems to be something more specific as shown below.

Figure 2, this is what LISO might look like.
Figure 3; This is what LSO might look like.

With such a wide scope, an ECM (Element Control Management) functional block can be mistaken for MANO (Management and Network Orchestration- for NFV); Billing/measurement for a BSS (Billing Support System), BUS functional block (ordering, billing, and trouble ticket management between two network providers); and also service orchestration (AKA service chaining).

SOF and ICM (network and topology view of network management) appear to impinge upon SDN Controller functions, while order fulfillment is clearly an OSS attribute.

LSO stakeholders need to clearly understand that LSO is essentially East-West and North-South APIs and their end-points. 

APIs are the principal and fundamental deliverable of LSO and even among the APIs, the East-West APIs take precedence. (emphasis added) Once this is clarified, the path for LSO adoption will become better defined.

Fundamentally, LSO is on a “strong wicket,” to use the parlance widely employed in cricket, a sport widely popular in South Asia.

LSO aims at readying telcos to combat threats – OTT providers being the usual suspects. MEF contends, and rightly so, that without proper readiness, even opportunities such SDN, NFV, AI, ML, and blockchains cannot be leveraged and will be deployed more out of peer pressure than out of genuine appreciation of their value. Such suboptimal deployment can metamorphose the opportunities to threats.

The LSO prevents the telco titanic from crashing into the iceberg of challenges and opportunities!
Figure 4; The LSO prevents the telco titanic from crashing into the iceberg of challenges and opportunities!

In my opinion, LSO aims at preventing the obsolescence-ridden telco infrastructure of Titanic proportions from crashing into an iceberg of challenges and unexploitable opportunities.”

LSO Market Size Forecasts:

It’s been very difficult to quantify the market for LSO when there are so many possible use cases.

MEF’s 2020 LSO addressable market forecast of $250B includes LSO solutions as well as services/applications facilitated by LSO.

Insight Research’s equivalent 2020 LSO estimate is only $2B, but it includes only LSO solutions such as for BUS and SOF (17.9%), as well as API and Gateway solutions (82.1%).

The path ahead for LSO may largely depend on how well the MEF LSO specifications are accepted in the industry vs. proprietary vendor approaches being pursued by the likes of Ciena Blue Planet, Cisco, Netcracker, Cloudify, AMDOCS, Anuta, Amartus, and ECI Telecom.


AI           Artificial Intelligence

API        Application Programming Interface

BSS       Business Support Systems

BUS       Business Applications

ECM      Element Control and Management

ICM        Infrastructure Control and Management

IoT         Internet of Things

LSO       Lifecycle Services Orchestration

MANO    Management and Network Orchestration

MEF       Metro Ethernet Forum

ML         Machine Learning

NFV       Network Function Virtualization

OSS       Operations Support Systems

SDN       Software-Defined Networking

SOF       Service Orchestration Functionality

Author Alan Weissberger

By Alan Weissberger

Alan Weissberger is a renowned researcher in the telecommunications field. Having consulted for telcos, equipment manufacturers, semiconductor companies, large end users, venture capitalists and market research firms, we are fortunate to have his critical eye examining new technologies.

One reply on “Is Lifecycle Services Orchestration (LSO) Ready for Large Scale Deployments & Where?”

Thank you Alan and Kaustubha for publishing this great summary in the Viodi View. Your message to focus on the APIs, particularly the East-West APIs makes sense. The addressable market may not appear as big, but it will have a bigger impact particularly if it can turn the incumbent telco operations from a giant ship to a sleek speed boat capable of turning on a dime and accelerating the rollout of new services, as needed to keep up with agile and unencumbered new competitors.

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