Off-net vs. on-net. This is truly a discussion predicated on your vantage point.  Most service providers now rely on a combination of their own transport network (on-net services) combined with additional circuits provided by 3rd party access vendors. These out of network Ethernet circuits are considered off-net, resulting in complex Ethernet transport services that traverse multiple carrier boundaries.

The extent to which service providers depend on off-net circuits varies wildly due to a range of factors –  regional vs. national or international footprint, limited metro assets, customer demands and more.  Let’s not forget the data center scenario.  This is where enterprises in one data center need quality guaranteed connectivity to their cloud services provider in a different data center, which could mean connecting via an off-net circuit supplied by an alternate access vendor. 

It’s big business for alternate access providers providing these circuits, and for the service provider, it can be a significant recurring monthly expense. Service providers have a raft of OSS tools to manage their own on-net circuits.  Anything that is off-net – well, it’s a blind spot.  

Here is what I mean.

What happens when an off-net circuit goes down?  How do providers know it’s out of service – how can they determine which segment of the transport network is down?  Can they trust their inventory data to know which access vendor is responsible for that transport circuit, so they can take corrective action?  Does this impact their provider’s SLA?  What penalties are not being secured?   What about cost leakage around circuits that may no longer be in service but are still being billed, because there is no accurate means of tracking off-net circuit inventory?

Let’s look at off-net services from an ordering perspective.  Some tier 1 service providers are generating upwards of 500-1000 orders per month for off-net Ethernet circuits.  Today, it’s a highly manual process between the operator and the alternate access provider, fraught with errors, inaccurate provisioning data, stalled processes, that result in an average 120 days to turn up an Ethernet circuit. The richness of Ethernet also brings differing service definitions that need to be reconciled between Ethernet access vendors and the service provider, adding further complexity to this problem. For the Ethernet access provider, it’s become a major drag on time to revenue, and a source of customer dissatisfaction. 

Off-net inter-carrier Ethernet transport is here to stay – it will only get more complex and operational systems need to be architected to deal with it.  Software-defined networks compound the challenge even further by introducing different network types and new applications and virtualized network functions.

This is where inter-carrier service orchestration comes in; bringing a new generation approach that transcends the boundaries of multiple carrier networks, and IP and next generation SDNs. The ability to derive off-net inventory data from a diverse set of data sources and types – excel, OSS, activation notices as example.  Then, provide an accurate and complete view of all Ethernet assets – both off-net and on-net. The ability to automate ordering processes between carriers using a combination of human emulation and automation techniques.  And importantly, the ability to manage SLA performance, with detailed fault sectionalization that determines AAV dependencies and factors in scheduled maintenance checks and so forth. Finally, better controls on cost leakage due to inaccurate billing reconciliation between Ethernet inventory and what’s actually in service. 

It’s time to remove the blindfold and figure out what’s really going on in your transport network – inter-carrier service orchestration is  key to providing this comprehensive actionable view across on-net and off-net circuits.

To learn more about Service Orchestration and how it can connect network operators to their data services, watch the video "What is Service Orchestration?".

What is Service Orchestration? CENX Video

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