The rapid pace of IT innovation makes it hard to keep up with all of the latest and greatest technologies. When it comes to networks, much of 2014 was spent discussing Software Defined Networking (SDN), and more recently Network Functions Virtualization (NFV). Now it seems the hot topic in network conversation is Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO).

What is all of this telecom acronym madness about? Here is a brief outline of each acronym and the technology behind it:

Software Defined Networking (SDN) - SDN provides for separation of the control and data plane where the intelligence of the network (e.g. switch or router) is split from the packet forwarding engine. This separation provides opportunities to program the network at various points (i.e. Layers 1-3). SDN impacts the way Communications Service Providers (CSPs) build and operate their data center/cloud networks, giving them the ability to deploy low-cost white box switches that use independent network operating systems.

Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) - Service Providers have teamed up to convince their vendors to move away from special-purpose equipment and toward software-only solutions that run on industry-standard commodity servers, switches, and storage equipment. By embracing NFV technology, service providers expect to significantly reduce equipment costs, power consumption, and time-to-market for new services and functionality.

Operational Support Systems (OSS) – OSS supports network planning and provisioning, service fulfillment, and service assurance from a common core of service and resource management. OSS solutions aim to improve the efficiency of the planning and operations team, as well as significantly contributing to a company’s overall CAPEX and OPEX network equipment budgets.

Lifecycle Service Orchestration - (LSO) - a buzzword that embraces the range of activities performed by a telco or other Communications Service Provider. An LSO platform would handle everything from provisioning the order to controlling the delivery of the service to gathering metrics and ensuring guaranteed performance levels to remediating fault to providing usage reports to offering analytics for customers. That’s a lot to digest, but supposedly this is going to big. According to experts, LSO will be a $2.75 billion market by 2019 and will combine technologies found today in Operations Support Systems, Software Defined Networks, and Network Functions Virtualization.

What does all this mean to the average IT person?

For the most part all of these technologies are intended to make it easier for Service Providers to deliver more dynamic services to the customer quicker and more efficiently. Sounds good right? With steadily rising demand for faster service delivery, with more bandwidth delivered to diverse applications and locations – all at a low market price, it sounds like the way forward for innovative service providers. That said, many of these technologies are still in an early state and there is much to be learned as Service Providers leverage these solutions. We hope to see more success stories emerge as this  new networking ecosystem takes shape over the next few years.