The “Software Enabled Service Management” Solution

The concept of a Service Delivery Platform is relatively simple provided the services are all contained within one well-defined boundary: A Software Application Store or an SDP for one set of functions in a mobile operators network. However, once service providers begin to meld together services from multiple domains, problems abound. Setting aside service interoperability for a moment, the other major issue has to do with the management (CRM, Fulfillment, Assurance, Billing) of the services being delivered. If all the services are contained within one service provider’s domain, then presumably, all of the services are all already managed by an established set of BSS/OSS. As a result, the SDP itself has a relatively minimal role to play in end-to-end service management. However, new issues begin to crop up when a service bundle is offered consisting of discrete services from multiple domains. These issues become more interesting when the services from different domains will be actually integrated together in a loosely coupled SOA based service mashup.  

There have been two general approaches to a solution:

  1. Walled garden approach that forces all services, including third party services, to be on-boarded into one SDP.
  2. Acceptance of a the de facto existence of multiple SDPs the must somehow work together seamlessly.

Approach 1 can work but has proven to be very expensive and not conducive to the rapid rollout of innovative new services.

The TM Forum set up a working group to define how to implement Approach 2. A Service Delivery Framework (SDF) was defined that could enable a community of SDPs, each managing their own domains of services, to collaborate and deliver manageable complex services consisting of components controlled by different SDPs and associated BSS/OSS. The core focus of this working group was on the ability to manage the resulting services end-to-end. Microsoft has been an active contributor this workgroup since its inception. In fact, some of the original concepts of the now discontinued Microsoft Connected Services Framework (CSF) are embedded in this body of work. 

SDF renamed to Software Enabled Services (SES) Management Solution

In order to maintain consistency in the TM Forum’s deliverables to its members, the solution approach is being renamed the Software Enabled Services (SES) Management Solution.  

Using the SES Management Solution, members can realize business benefits including:

  • Faster time to market for developing composed and manageable SOA services that are consumed and offered with third-parties through using a standardized management interface.
  • Reducing cost of managing complex compositions of software components by providing standardized information about dependencies needed for service development and operations
  • Monetizing new types of software-enabled services using standardized event information from software components

There are currently 3 parts to the Software Enabled Services Management Solution:

  1. Software Enabled Services - Management Reference Architecture (SES-RA) – includes TM Forum Approved deliverables TMF519, TR139, and TMF061.
  2. Software Enabled Services - Management Interface (SES-MI) – see the current project charter and online community for initial specification work on the SES-MI
  3. Software Enabled Services – Lifecycle Management Metadata (SES-LMM) – see the current project charter for an upcoming deliverable to define SES-LMM

Microsoft itself has become a service provider within this ecosystem. And within Microsoft there exist several domains of cloud services:  Windows Azure, Windows Live, Microsoft Online Services, Zune, Xbox Live, Windows Phone Application Store etc. Not only do we, as part of the communications sector industry, have to solve the issues of service management between service providers, we also have to address service management across the different domains within Microsoft. We are working on it.