White Paper: Service exposure - the key to network relevance and innovation

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Operators can continue to improve the relevance of their networks by adopting an architecture customized for innovation.

Operators can continue to improve the relevance of their networks by adopting an architecture customized for innovation.

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  • 1. the key to network relevance and innovation Operators can continue to improve the relevance of their networks by adopting an architecture customized for innovation. Service exposure enables integration of network assets into enterprise business processes, making it possible for operators to develop their position in the value chain and to create new innovative offerings. ericsson White paper 284 23-3213 Uen | July 2013 Service exposure
  • 2. Service exposure • the changing landscape 2 The changing landscape The straightforward view of the world used to be one where devices and networks provided consumers with services. However, a more complex world has emerged where third-party developer ecosystems and the apps they build are just as important in shaping the consumer experience, as Figure 1 shows. Thismaysuggestthattelecommunicationnetworkshavebeenrelegatedtoprovidingsimpleconnectivity. In this paper, we would like to balance this view by bringing forward recent advancements, with the adoption of an architecture where the inherent assets of the networks are made available for innovation and co-creation by enterprise and consumer developers.This paper explores how operators can be active, relevant and appreciated as essential contributors to this rapidly changing landscape. Emerging web world The web world has radically changed how we expect to find, use and consume all kinds of content, such as news, information, films, music, commerce and banking. Web technology has moved from just supporting the consumer using a browser, and has transformed into a toolset that supports a truly distributed way of implementing applications:webtechnologytoimplementaweb of functionality, not just a web of linked pages. This is a real game changer. The web space is where we have seen explosive growth of innovative services in recent decades, with no end to the flow of new ideas in sight. However, many operators are struggling to find their roles in this space. Another important aspect is the emergence of the mobile device as a computing platform close in capability to the desktops and laptops that used to dominate the developer focus. All these platforms are also embracing web technologies when interacting with the rest of the network, aligning technology for connected devices and widening the field of innovation. However, even though the device platform can take over a number of functions close to the consumer interaction, the network still has a major role to play. The enterprise scenario in particular has a clear need for network-side backend systems that run the actual applications – for example, coordinating workflows, managing information and guaranteeing consistency. In addition, the increasing use of multiple devices in different situations – but accessing the same services – leads to scenarios where the network is the only entity that can solve the problem of managing multiple devices. An illustration of how services can be developed in this context can be seen in Figure 2.This is a complex and varied space because: >> App developers are providing new services. >> Operatorsareprovidingcommunications,connectivityanddevelopersupport–inotherwords,service exposure. >> Service providers (part of the operator or independently) are deploying the services. >> Enterprises are using all these capabilities plus their own infrastructure. >> Device manufacturers are providing device hardware and software, as well as development tools. Ecosystems Google Apple Networks Devices Apps Figure 1: The changing landscape.
  • 3. Service exposure • the changing landscape  3 The service provider Many players can assume a service-provider role. An operator can take on this role; alternatively, it can be adopted by a business partner, or even by an independent over-the-top (OTT) provider signed up on a self-service portal. In the first case, we talk about internal service exposure; the other two cases are referred to as external service exposure. In many cases, an operator would like to bring onboard the talents of developers skilled in their specific application domains. This can make internal service exposure a powerful tool to allow the developerstofocusontheirownissueswithouttheneedtoinvesttimeandmentaleffortinunderstanding the intricacies of the network.This means that operational staff can feel assured that the stability and integrity of the network is protected, while the marketing department benefits from the time to market for new services – or new adaptations to a new enterprise vertical – being on a web-style timetable. What has changed? Until now, many operators have exposed assets through APIs, typically supporting SMS, payment and location-based solutions, targeting mainly developers and service providers with knowledge of the telecom domain.These initial ambitions of broadening their business reach in B2B value chains with wholesale network assets have in general not been as successful as the operators had anticipated. Two main factors that have changed drastically in recent years affect exposure for operators: the market situation and the available technology. Overall, the market drivers and business priority for operators exploring wholesale revenue streams have changed. From the perspective of capability exposure, this means moving from silo capabilities exposed to a few service providers and mass-market developers, to exposure of customized assets addressing enterprises’ specific business needs. Operators have had limited success in their attempts toexplorecapabilitiesdirectlywiththelong-taildeveloperecosystem.Theconnectedenterprise,however, is much more interested in using these capabilities as part of its own processes. Regarding available technology, traditional network capabilities are being made available more and more over easily accessible APIs. Examples here include network policy control, network and subscriber data, and OSS/BSS capabilities, such as subscription management, order management and assurance. This opens up opportunities for operators to improve their time to market by developing their own services faster and more easily. However, it also means there is a need for operators to control how these APIs are used in order to protect service delivery quality and availability: this is certainly true for exposure to external parties, but it is also relevant internally. For example, consider the case when an external consultant – not necessarily a telecom specialist – writes an application on commission from the operator. Service user (enterprise) Service user (consumer) Service provider Code APIs Protocols Developer (internal or independent) Design Deploy Execute Figure 2: The service exposure context.
  • 4. Service exposure • exposing assets for mutual benefit  4 Exposing assets for mutual benefit Current fixed and mobile networks are viewed as static and closed, with little ability for service providers to leverage the inherent networking assets, which are normally under the operator’s control.Transforming the network to an open and dynamic environment creates an architecture for innovation. Exposing operator assets offers mutual benefits for operators and users (enterprises as well as consumers). The user experience expands to allow connections to people, content and collaboration that are fragmented and technically complex today. Network relevance Until recently, services were either confined to the operator domain (fully controlled, optimized and interoperable), or delivered OTT, carried on any IP-capable access. However, with ever- increasing demands for bandwidth and low latency, IP-based services will also depend on good network performance. Obviously, this can only be done by making the network aware of what service is being delivered, in order to select the best possible delivery method. This awareness can be created in two basic ways: either through explicit interaction between the application providing the service and the communications/connectivity network (the classic API-exposure scenario); or by way of the network detecting the traffic and optimizing it as required. Networks that handle these kinds of optimization well will perform better, making it a premium feature for the operator. A good example of the latter is smart mobile broadband, where operators have the possibility to offer end-to-end quality of service (QoS).The result can be a positive spiral of better quality of experience (QoE), leading to more service use and better business for operators, in turn leading to a stickier combined offering for the consumer. However, increasing delivery performance is just one side of the potential improvement. The real entry into the web-paced innovation realm is when network capabilities such as multimedia communication, presence, location, and access to network-maintained data such as user profiles can be made available – subject to privacy and integrity measures – as components in the application developers’ toolbox. In particular, the enterprise communication field is ripe with opportunities for tighter integration of communications with enterprise back-office systems, such as corporate authentication and authorization services, business management, and sales and marketing support. Service exposure for the enterprise segment For enterprises, customer relations and the possibility to address partners from other industries to explore new revenue streams are business-critical topics. For operators to capitalize on this business opportunity, it is essential they understand the unique needs of the enterprise, similar to what operators have been doing for a long time regarding subscribers’ needs. Figure 3 shows the relevance of different operator capabilities for enterprises. This is Billing and developer services Data and information services Contextual information Identity and authentication Advertising/marketing Shipping/logistics Health care Digital content/media Video/collaboration Retail Financial Automotive Enterprise software Network optimization Real-time communication/embedded 10 8 6 4 2 0 Figure 3: Enterprises’ requirements from operators.
  • 5. Service exposure • exposing assets for mutual benefit  5 based on qualitative interviews with enterprises in North America [1].The graph provides a clear message: enterprises’ requirements for operator capabilities differ between industry segments. Furthermore, enterprise needs are not related to only a single capability. There is therefore no single “killer API,” as composites of multiple operator capabilities are the real sources of value. With the network becoming an architecture for innovation, enterprises will be able to adapt their own internal operations, as well as improve the service and responsiveness to their customers by directly incorporating features of the communications network architecture. Business incentives It is a strategic decision for operators to invest in an architecture for innovation in order to keep their relevance in the changing environment.The big picture includes both direct revenues based on single API usage and combinations of direct and indirect revenue streams. A. Direct revenues are revenues derived from sales of exposed network assets. Often, APIs are published on operators’ developer sites, and a fee is charged on a per-usage basis. B. Indirect revenues can be divided into three major areas: ›› Additional revenues from increased traffic. New types of services can be created using exposed assets, and such services can potentially generate more traffic that can be monetized. ›› Differentiation by partnerships. By partnering with external service providers, giving them access to operator assets, new innovative offerings can be created. QoE can be enhanced for users by enabling interaction between operators’ infrastructure and service providers’ applications. Operators can shift from being a pure connectivity player to becoming a provider of services with capabilities and qualities tailored to the buyer’s needs: a much smarter pipe. New ecosystems can be formed with close partnerships between operators and service providers to create new innovative services and manage the rapid pace of innovation. ›› Increased network efficiency. The ability to dynamically tailor QoE and to manage traffic flows of specific services gives the possibility to reduce network load using dynamic real-time analytics and policy management. This benefits operators and content providers, as it results in both reduced network load for operators and service delivery without interruptions for content providers. One example is to optimize video coding based on the current network load. Service exposure realization There are some aspects to consider in order to realize an architecture for innovation that addresses the enterprise business opportunities in a connected marketplace compared with traditional silo capability and long-tail focused exposure solutions. Business flexibility is the differentiator, not the API. Operators do not differentiate on the exposed API level. It is what is behind the API and how it is delivered to the customer that is the differentiator. The whole delivery chain of the service being exposed should quickly adapt to new use cases, with new interaction and business logic. Adapt to new exposure technology. Operator service-exposure solutions have so far been delivered with northbound interfaces (NBIs) being made available for developers to leverage in device and server-side applications. With HTML5 and WebRTC technology, an operator can also make their assets available over a User-to-Network Interface (UNI) and over standard web technologies directly in the device. An operator’s service exposure solution needs to be able to manage both NBI and UNI exposure situations. Availability. Enterprises using operator-provided services need be ensured that the service is available and performing according to expectations; 99.999 percent availability is required for these solutions. Leverage internal and external service exposure investments. Operators today make investments in improving their relevance in their own consumer channels with, for example, enriched communication services, network policy services, contextual information, and product offer bundles.These investments are also valuable when addressing wholesale opportunities.
  • 6. Service exposure • exposing assets for mutual benefit  6 As depicted in the high-level architecture in Figure 4, service enablement is the domain that simplifies and presents operators’ assets and the service exposure solution. As a result, developers do not need to understand the complexity of the network behind the service enablement layer. Service enablement consists of interface control (access to exposed interfaces/APIs), service adaptation (executing business logic associated with applications), network adaptation (protocol adaptation for flexible integration with exposable assets) and business management (supporting business relationships between service providers and operators). The architecture discussed here might suggest that the set of network capabilities that feed into service enablement could be anything that the network can produce.This is, however, not normally the case. Service exposure is not about opening up everything to every app; strict control needs to be maintained over which services are available and who or what can access them. Consequently, even though the architecture provides the technical basis for doing almost anything, there are business decisions that have to be made relating to what is actually exposed, to whom, to what extent, how quickly and at what price.These decisions are taken on a variety of levels: by the vendor, system integrator, operator and partner.They are then enforced by all of the service-enablement components: interface control, service adaptation, network adaptation and business management. Use cases Communication and connectivity are moving from stand-alone services to becoming integral parts of connected enterprises’ business processes. For instance, internal communication and collaboration, interaction with customers, suppliers and partners, as well as an increasing use of social media and Internet of Things technologies are being used to transform their operations. The reliance on communications, and in particular the integration of mobility, is a prime driver for most businesses. Customer support Today, most communication lacks interaction with all other related contextual data, such as a call to a customer support center for a product, or an inquiry for a transaction on a credit card bill.This imposes an additional burden on the consumer and the enterprise to establish facts and context before either party can resolve the intent of the call. The operator can allow data from the network to be fused with data that is provided by the user and the enterprise. The portfolio of contextual data can include information such as identity, location and various tiers of policy management to determine the nature of the communication. This allows the communication to be routed to the right destination (such as a product expert) without the inefficiency and delay that is typical today. Contextual communication enhances the user experience as well as the relationship between enterprises and their customers. Field workforce Utilities manage power-distribution systems with a complex range of machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, data centers, contact centers and expert repair staff backed up with subject matter experts in different disciplines who are on call as required. Some key performance metrics are the frequency and number of faults, time to detect a fault, time to isolate the fault accurately to a particular set of equipment, and the time to get crew on site to carry out the repairs, as well as customer-facing metrics on the disruption, and safety metrics (such as injuries). All these aggregate into a total cost per incident for each category, and eventually the total cost per distribution node or customer. With the architecture for innovation, response to a crisis relies on contextual communications, Operator consumer services Operator enterprise services Innovation ecosystem B2C B2B Long-tail developers Operator network Service enablement Network APIs Exposable assets Devicereach Connectivity Communication Content, data and identity M2M Figure 4: Service exposure realization architecture.
  • 7. Service exposure • exposing assets for mutual benefit  7 collection of data for the post-incident analysis, as well as processing of real-time data to trigger mobilization of the appropriate field staff, as well as expert support staff in multiple locations. Only the integration of business processes with the assets of the telecommunications network can provide the evolved enterprise with a comprehensive solution and workflow. Remote patient monitoring One commercial example of the use of network assets is in the area of health care, where affordable quality care, without the need for the patient to have technical expertise, can address the risks and costs of chronic diseases. The driving principle is to use technology and network assets to provide patient-centric personalized health care. Remote patient monitoring is offered to operators as software as a service (SaaS), and utilizes common off-the-shelf devices, such as tablets and biometric sensors. The solution utilizes communication enablers, such as the service enablement platform for M2M information management and service exposure, so a caregiver can collect, monitor and act upon a patient’s biometric readings post-discharge. Specific user experience includes live video chats to help maintain patient-doctor intimacy, and educational and informative videos that can be pushed to the patient’s tablet to aid them in their recovery care at home. The doctor is able to customize the care plan specifically to the patient, the disease or the treatment, and the plan can be updated “over the air” as needed, while the patient can remain at home.
  • 8. Service exposure • conclusion  8 conclusion The communications industry continues to grow with all the different services and devices that are driving traffic on the networks. Operators need to consider several factors as they plan their future: >> Decide on the role they want to have and take measures to move in that direction >> Decide which network assets to expose and the underlying technology choices >> Leverage partners, distributors and integrators, who will play an important role in reaching enterprise customers. Operators have an opportunity to engage proactively and aggressively in the enterprise communications market, and to participate in larger profit pools than those available in a pure connectivity-provider market.
  • 9. Service exposure • glossary 9 GLOSSARY API application programming interface HTML5 HyperText Markup Language 5 M2M machine-to-machine NBI northbound interface OSS/BSS operations support systems / business support systems OTT over-the-top QoE Quality of Experience QoS Quality of Service SaaS software as a service UNI User-to-Network Interface WebRTC Web Real-Time Communication
  • 10. Service exposure • references 10 References 1. Ericsson, API Market Demand, September 2012, http://www.slideshare.net/Ericsson/market-demand-enterpise-focus-survey-rev-a © 2013 Ericsson AB – All rights reserved