Monetize Your 5G Investments Using Cognizant’s Digital Services Marketplace on AWS
Communications service providers (CSPs) are striving to transform their businesses to ensure success in the digital world and position themselves to be digital service providers (DSP). They understand the need to evolve their architectures to simplify the delivery of connectivity and to enable the launch of new market offers through a multidimensional open ecosystem. According to an MIT technology review, the global enterprise opportunity enabled by 5G is projected to be $700B by the end of 2030. In order to secure their place in this enterprise market landscape, DSPs need to develop vertical solutions in collaboration with ecosystem partners to serve the DSPs’ B2B2X and B2C markets. This will enable them to rise higher up the value chain and become digital ecosystem providers (DEP).
Figure 1. Digital services provider opportunity graph
This blog post describes how Cognizant and AWS have partnered to build an integrated digital services platform called Digital Services Marketplace that comprises a scalable cross-industry marketplace to configure, buy, order, activate, and monetize digital products and advanced connectivity offerings for any industry vertical.
Together, AWS and Cognizant have participated in TM Forum’s Catalyst program to develop a proof-of-concept of this solution. This catalyst is called 5G Digital Marketplace II, which was championed by Verizon and COLT UK. This catalyst is the proof point that the Digital Services Marketplace solution can enable DSPs to deliver CaaS across the edge and cloud, zero-touch partnering, and Industry 4.0 use cases, all within an Open Digital Architecture. 5G Digital Services Marketplace II won the award for the best use of the TM Forum Open Digital Framework and has since gathered a lot of customer interest.
5G Digital Services Marketplace (DSM) enables DSPs to bundle connectivity as a service (CaaS) along with IoT devices and applications that use that connectivity in order to deliver applications and services that is directly consumable by an enterprise to meet their business outcomes.
Connectivity++ offers are created as enablers for Industry 4.0 solutions. For example, CaaS for mobile broadband is combined with camera monitoring to enable streaming video for remote surveillance, which delivers the necessary information for city authorities for citizen safety. These connectivity++ solutions create new value for Enterprise customers and result in new revenue streams for partners over B2C or B2B2X. Many types of connectivity++ offers can be delivered as depicted below:
Figure 2. Digital Services Marketplace use cases
Imagine a scenarios where, for example, a surgeon at a hospital wants to perform remote robotic surgery, or a farming enterprise wants to measure the moisture content of the soil in their land, or a smart city wants to ensure that traffic is managed seamlessly, or fans want to have an immersive experience at a stadium, turning every seat into a VIP one, or an automobile manufacturer wants to offer a diverse consumer experience to the passengers in the autonomous car. With DSM, these advanced cross-industry services can now be provided through a zero-X (zero-touch, zero-wait, zero-friction) and self-X (self-service, self-provisioning, self-assuring, self-organizing, self-monitoring, self-ordering) experience for the enterprise customer, ecosystem partner, and for the DSP themselves.
The subsequent sections of this blog post describe the solutions architecture on AWS and the joint offering from Cognizant and AWS.
The 5G marketplace journey towards monetization of 5G in an ecosystem of partners, requires a core set of capabilities within the end-to-end architecture. DSM provides or enables the DSP to build these capabilities while adhering to Open Digital Architecture principles. The layers of this architecture are as follows:
Figure 3. Digital Services Marketplace enterprise architecture
- Autonomous networks—The 5G core, RAN, and the transport network need to be software-defined and programmable. DSM enables this by providing a programmable way to onboard network and IT workloads in the Cloud and on the edge by leveraging AWS’s global infrastructure, container orchestration services, software-defined connectivity, and the ubiquitous programming model.
- Cloud-native operations—The OSS/BSS of the service provider must evolve to become as automated as possible. It must be built out of agile modular building blocks based on microservices deployed via containerized functions or serverless functions. DSM enables the abstraction and compliance of OSS/BSS APIs to TM Forum’s Open API standards.
- Unified customer experience – There is a need to reinvent the customer experience for enterprise markets to one that is predictive and personalized. This includes reimaging the front-end channels for customer interaction to being zero-touch for the DSP, meaning fully digital via self-service apps and personalized in a manner that the customer is given all the flexibility to construct their own product bundles from the marketplace, order them, and also keep track of them as they go through their lifecycle. DSM enables this by providing a customer-facing, partner-facing, and a DSP-facing portal that are each contextualized and personalized to the user journeys based on the personas from the partner, customer, or DSP. It also provides an API-first experience leveraging the TMF Open APIs.
- Business model across various industry verticals—It is paramount that the DSP is able to service vertical use cases across multiple industries without undergoing a design and build exercise each time a new use case is presented by its customers. DSM is built on Open Digital Architecture principles, allowing the enterprise to express its business intent via a fully digital experience. The business intent is then converted to the technical intent through a catalog-driven approach, leveraging the DSPs enterprise product catalog.
DSM’s modular architecture enables the DSP to deliver connectivity as a service (CaaS) by abstracting the complexity of their products and services through intent-based order management. By providing the intelligence to convert any customer order intent into the necessary downstream network, the DSP can supply the needed connectivity via a network slice on an as-needed basis, delivering value to the consumer—pay only for what you need. The DSM can also help scale services up and down through automation and provide autonomous operations via a closed loop to provide a better customer experience.
The DSM, built on the AWS Cloud, can expand globally in minutes to your choice of AWS Regions, Availability Zones, Local Zones, and also on the edge with, for example AWS Outposts, AWS Wavelength, and the AWS Snow Family. By virtue of this, DSM can deliver low latency services that leverage 5G virtualized multi-access edge computing (vMEC). It simplifies digital operations with a single pane of glass for the entire network and applications deployed across the multi-access edge computing (MEC) or vMEC and the AWS Region by leveraging the ubiquitous programming model offered by Amazon EKS, AWS AppMesh, AWS CDK, AWS Lambda, AWS Step Functions, and Amazon API Gateway. DSM enables service orchestration and abstraction of CNF lifecycle management APIs to allow network slice orchestration and conformance to TM Forum standards, making the solution DSP friendly.
The below diagram demonstrates the end-to-end solution architecture of DSM on AWS, including the AWS services used per component.
Figure 5. AWS Solution Architecture
The following sections provide a description of the functionality and architecture of each component within the above architecture.
Experience Hub provides the digital experience for the DSP’s B2B2X customers and partners. This will enable DSPs, their partners, and their customers to onboard, buy, order, and manage digital services. The Experience Hub is comprised of two types of experiences—the management Portal and a tenant Portal.
The management portal enables DSP Product Managers and Partner Product Managers to onboard their respective products. The partner product onboarding requests go through an approval process within the DSP. The Partner is constantly kept up-to-date regarding the status of the product onboarding process. For example, in order to onboard a product such as a smart stadium, which involves hardware and software partner products such as cameras, drones, terrestrial connectivity, ISV applications, and CNFs/VNFs, the smart stadium product is first configured in DSP’s enterprise product catalog with all its associated attributes. The ecosystem Partner products such as camera devices and video streaming providers onboard their respective products against the relevant DSP product structure.
The tenant portal provides the DSPs’ partners and B2B customers an intuitive user interface that allows them to browse their products in their enterprise product catalog using TMF620 open API, manage quotes in the BSS quote management module using TMF648 open API, and manage orders in their BSS order management system using the TMF622 open API. This order request is sent to the BSS order manager via the federation layer using the TMF Open API (TMF 641). The order is then decomposed by the order management system using the product structure defined in the enterprise product catalog. The tenant portal listens for order status updates and pops these up as notifications to the relevant users who would like to know about the status of a particular order.
Federation layer is an abstraction layer based on TMF Open Digital Architecture principles that offer microservices exposed via TMF Open API for integration with BSS, OSS, and third-party systems. The main benefits of adopting TMF Open APIs are:
- Achieves loose coupling between systems using standards-based interfaces
- Reduces the cost of integration
- Improves time to market for product onboarding and zero-touch order management.
Federation layer leverages Amazon API Gateway to expose TMF OpenAPIs. The payload transformation logic is built using Java spring boot MVC and deployed using Docker containers. The containers are orchestrated in a fully serverless manner using Amazon ECS Fargate.
The list of TMF Open APIs that have been implemented using the federation layer are as follows:
- TMF620 – Product Catalog
- TMF622 – Product Order
- TMF648 – Quote Management
- TMF641 – Service Order
- TMF640 – Service Activation and Configuration
- TMF657 – Service Qualification
- TMF653 – Service Test
- TMF638 – Service Inventory
- TMF639 – Resource Inventory
- TMF677 – Usage Consumption Management
- TMF635 – Usage Management
- TMF621 – Trouble Ticket
- TMF628 – Performance Management
Multi-Domain Service Orchestrator (MDSO)
Multi-Domain Orchestrator is an implementation of end-to-end management and orchestration across multiple network technology and administrative domains.
- Service management and orchestration.
- Resource management and orchestration.
- Inter operator SLA fulfilment.
Let’s take the example of a smart stadium. The order orchestration for this service consists of a number of technology domains, namely the end devices (smart cameras or drones), RAN, terrestrial transport, 5G core, and the media streaming application or video analytics applications deployed on the edge and in the AWS Region. The MDSO also integrates with service order management systems of other DSPs (for example, terrestrial connectivity providers) in order to fulfill the end-to-end service. It does this using TMF Open APIs via the federation layer. The multi-domain service orchestrator manages the end-to-end workflow required to orchestrate the customer-facing service across all these mentioned domains.
MDSO is implemented using open-source distributions of ONAP and OSM. It is deployed on Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS), which runs up-to-date versions of the open-source Kubernetes software, so you can use all the existing plugins and tooling from the Kubernetes community.
Edge Scaler is an orchestrator specifically designed for the DSP edge application and infrastructure lifecycle management. It is a collection of integrated containerized microservices that expose three APIs, allowing DSPs to onboard edge applications and orchestrate the provisioning, activation, scaling, and healing of the applications and underlying infrastructure. Edge Scaler provides zero-touch orchestration for multi-access edge services deployed on AWS edge services such as AWS Outposts, AWS Wavelength, the AWS Snow Family of devices, or on customer-provided edges using EKS Anywhere or self-managed Kubernetes clusters.
Edge Scaler’s APIs are expected to be accessed by multi-domain service orchestrators that manage the lifecycle of the overall digital service that spans core, transport, edge, RAN, and end device domains.
DSPs would usually have an orchestrator in their systems architecture that would manage the lifecycle management of the 5G core that is either provided by the 5G core network vendor or built by the DSP themselves. In the absence of such an orchestrator, Edge Scaler can also be extended to orchestrate the lifecycle of the 5G CNFs and their associated network configuration.
Edge Scaler is built using Amazon EKS for container orchestration, Amazon Neptune for the inventory, Amazon S3 for persistence of configuration manifests, and Amazon API Gateway for exposure of REST APIs.
The Cognizant and AWS Offering
Cognizant has been a premier AWS consulting partner for over 13 years and one of the world’s leading professional services companies. Cognizant brings its deep telecommunications industry experience, coupled with experience across all other industry verticals such as finance, insurance, healthcare and life sciences, media and entertainment, and manufacturing and logistics, among others. This is key to driving success in the context of a cross-industry digital services marketplace. Cognizant’s combination of delivering digital transformation to global Fortune 500 companies and deep cloud expertise with more than 6,000 certified AWS professionals positions them as a very strong choice of partner to deliver the DSM solution with confidence to our customers.
DSPs can engage Cognizant and AWS in several ways:
- Consulting and business assessment to define the vision, strategy, and roadmap or target state and next steps or even the revenue opportunities and potential cost
- Develop a proof-of-concept prototyping and proof-of-concept strategy with scaling model for one-to-many industry use cases
- Develop a custom Digital Services Marketplace platform with various industry use cases
The components within the DSM architecture meet the needs of many stakeholder groups within the DSP. Each of the DSM components can plug and play within the DSP’s end-to-end systems architecture in order to enable business value as quickly as possible. Underpinned by the DSP’s business, IT, and network strategy, Cognizant and AWS will work with the DSP to assess their current ecosystem and define a roadmap to become a Digital Services Enabler.
The Digital Services Marketplace (DSM) platform is a TM Forum ODA-compliant reference architecture built on AWS.
In this blog post, we described how DSM can accelerate the Digital Service Providers’ journey towards:
- Forging new partnerships with the digital native ecosystem players.
- Opening up new revenue streams beyond connectivity.
- Enabling quick time to market whilst keeping the operational costs low, and
- Delivering a digital native customer experience.
We also provided a high level overview of the architecture and how native AWS services have been used to build it. Together, Cognizant and AWS bring in the domain engineering, architectural capabilities, cloud technologies, and system integration services required to make this cross-industry platform a success.
Please visit the 5G Digital Services Marketplace- II TM Forum catalyst to learn more about this proof of concept that AWS has built with its CSP partners.