Lifecycle service orchestration (LSO) is a buzzword on par with software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), which the service provider community has embraced with zeal. Although market trends signal a shift away from proprietary hardware, smaller service providers are struggling to integrate these budding technologies into their network. Consequently, the idea of LSO emerged.

An emerging framework

But what exactly is LSO? According to Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF), a worldwide community consisting of operators and tech vendors, LSO is a framework for provisioning connectivity services across multiple network service domains. It includes network domains like mobile networks, Ethernet and virtual private networks, which require coordinated end-to-end management and control to deliver connectivity services. This framework, in addition to SDN and NFV, is anticipated to provide greater agility, automation and visibility for deploying virtual network services (VNS).

A third network service

MEF originally developed specifications for the concept with open application program interfaces (APIs), which automate the lifecycle for services orchestrated across multiple provider networks. The organization describes it as a third network service, which integrates the flexibility of the web with the reliability of carrier ethernet 2.0 technologies. LSO provides services between access points situated on physical ports like Ethernet ports, in addition to access points situated on blade servers situated in the cloud tied to virtual machines (VMs) or virtual network functions (VNFs).

Defining characteristics

According to MEF, LOC provides open and interoperable automation of management operations over the lifecycle of layer 2 and layer 3 connectivity services. Its core characteristics include fulfillment, control, performance, assurance, usage, security, analytics and policy capabilities. Other chief characteristics include querying product catalogue, controlling the elastic behavior of service instances, gathering data related to service performance across the network, alarm surveillance that pinpoints errors and faults, usage and traffic measurements, among many others.


LSO should not be conflated with management and orchestration (MANO), which provides an architectural framework for provisioning resources in cloud data centers, such as compute, network storage, virtual machines and network services. The key difference between the two is the latter is not aware of the operating capabilities of the VNS it is managing, whereas the former does. If, for instance, a firewall is requested, LSO will tell MANO to create a firewall. While MANO will instantiate the firewall, it does not know the VNF it instantiated is in fact a firewall.

Market growth

The LSO market is expected to mature alongside NFV And SDN. According to a report published by Rayno Report titled “Service Provider Lifecycle Service Orchestration Overview and Market Forecast,” the LSO software market could reach $2.75 billion by 2019. This growth, according to the report, is fueled by NFV and SDN within the carrier infrastructure. As the authors of the report note:

“Global service providers are looking for software that integrates orchestration, fulfillment, control, performance, assurance, usage, analytics, security, and policy of enterprise networking services based on open and interoperable standards, according to our primary research and the results of a market survey of service providers.”


Future releases of LSO will support additional domains, company requests and use cases.
As carrier-grade Ethernet services become increasingly prevalent, it is expected LSO will spearhead the adoption of next generation services in the years to come.

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