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Terminology and Glossary

During our discussions with NRENs and at workshops it became clear that there are OAV terms that are being used in different ways and in some cases with slightly different meaning and understanding. So in order to have a common basis we decided to identify a list of relevant OAV terms and add a short definition with a reference link (source) for each term as well as an acronym table with definitions of abbreviations. We tried to use standard-based definitions whenever we could find them and listed internal definitions in cases where no standard definitions were found.

Internal definitions are based on the consensus of all team members; to come to an agreed definition of all team members a terminology document was created with descriptions of the terms and an internal survey was conducted for final adjustments. Additional comments are welcome!

OAV Common Terms     



OAV TermsDefinition and reference


AIOps is (the usage of) Artificial Intelligence for IT Operations. It combines big data and machine learning to automate IT operations processes, including event correlation, anomaly detection and causality determination.

AI-powered Virtual Agent (AIVA)

An AI-powered Virtual Agent is an animated virtual character, more complex than a chatbot, that makes use of technologies like machine learning and natural language processing (NLP). This allows it to actively participate in a conversation, acting more like a human.

API (Application Programming Interface)

An API is a set of commands, functions, protocols, and objects that programmers can use to create software or interact with an external system. Any data can be shared with an application program interface.

Architecture component

An architecture component is a nontrivial, nearly independent, and replaceable part of a system that fulfills a clear function in the context of a well-defined architecture.

  • TM Forum Reference, TMF071 ODA Terminology, TMF071, Release 19.0.1, October 2019

Architecture principles

Architecture principles define the underlying general rules and guidelines for the use and deployment of all IT resources and assets across the organisation. They reflect a level of consensus among the various elements of the enterprise, and form the basis for making future IT decisions.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. It is the system’s ability to correctly interpret external data, to learn from such data, and to use that learning to achieve specific goals and tasks through flexible adaptation.

Automated service provisioning

Automated service provisioning is the ability to deploy an information technology or telecommunications service by using pre-defined procedures that are carried out electronically without requiring human intervention.


Processing tasks in a repeatable manner to yield the same result every time without human intervention.

  • internal definition

  Big data

Big data reflects extremely large or complex datasets that may be analysed computationally, rather than by traditional data-processing application software, to reveal patterns, trends and associations, especially relating to human behaviours and interactions.

Big data-driven networking

A type of future network framework that collects big data from networks and applications, and generates big data intelligence based on that data; it then provides big data intelligence to facilitate smarter and autonomous network management, operation, control, optimisation and security, etc.


A blockchain is an expanding list of cryptographically signed, irrevocable transactional records shared by all participants in a network.

  • reduced; from TM Forum Reference, TMF071 ODA Terminology, TMF071, Release 19.0.1, October 2019

Cgroups (control groups)

Cgroups are linux kernel mechanisms to restrict and measure resource allocations to each process group. Using cgroups, you can allocate resources such as CPU time, network, and memory.


A computer program that simulates and processes human conversation (either written or spoken), allowing humans to interact with digital devices, systems and platforms as if they were communicating with a real person.

Cloud native application

Cloud Native Application (CNA) refers to a type of computer software that natively utilises services and infrastructure provided by cloud computing providers.

  • reduced; from TM Forum Reference, TMF071 ODA Terminology, TMF071, Release 19.0.1, October 2019


A component is a functionally independent part of any system. It performs some function and may require some input or produce some output.

Composite service

A composite service is an assembly of one or more elements into an end to end service. It may be recursive so a composite service may become a component of yet another service.

  • based on TM Forum Reference, TMF071 ODA Terminology, TMF071, Release 19.0.1, October 2019 and TR274 DSRA Guide R17.5 Reference R02

Control plane

The control plane is responsible for processing a number of different control protocols that may affect the forwarding table, depending on the configuration and type of network device. These control protocols are jointly responsible for managing the active topology of the network.

  • Software Defined Networks, A Comprehensive Approach, Paul Göransson, Chuck Black Morgan Kaufmann, 2014

Cross-domain data services

Data services that are delivered across multiple administrative, information or technological domains that allow data sharing among authorized consumers in different domains.

Data center interconnect (DCI)

Data center interconnect (DCI) is a segment of the networking market that focuses on the technology used to link two or more data centers so the facilities can share resources.

Data ingestion

Data ingestion is the process of transporting data from one or more sources to a target site, system or platform for further processing and analysis. This data can originate from a range of sources, including data lakes, IoT devices, on-premises databases, and SaaS apps, and end up in different target environments, such as cloud data warehouses or data marts.

Data lakeA storage repository that holds a vast amount of raw data in its native format, primarily in files or objects storage without hierarchical dimensions, until it is needed for analytics applications.
Data modelA data model (or datamodel) is an abstract model that organises elements of data and standardises how they relate to one another.

Data plane

The data plane (sometimes known as the user plane, forwarding plane, carrier plane or bearer plane) is the part of a network that carries user traffic from one interface to another.

Decision management engine

A decision management engine is a customisable solution that represents the logic, often in the form of a rules flow or decision tree, that can be operationalised to automate a decision. […] A decision management engine articulates how smaller decisions branch off to bigger and more complex decisions and ultimately end with a final outcome. This logic can be codified, documented, and often executed in an automated fashion.


Building approach (in electronics, software, etc.) where the constituent components of a system can be produced, sourced and interchanged independently of the other.

  • based on TOGAF 9.2 Reference R16
Deep learning

Deep learning is an iterative approach to artificial intelligence (AI) that stacks machine learning algorithms in a hierarchy of increasing complexity and abstraction. Each deep learning level is created with knowledge gained from the preceding layer of the hierarchy.


A collection of network infrastructure under the administrative control of the same organisation.

Extract, Transform, Load (ETL)

The data processing technique that engineers use to extract data from different sources, transform the data into a usable and trusted resource, and load that data into the systems end users can access and use downstream to solve business problems.

Expert system

An expert system uses artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to simulate the judgement and behaviour of a human expert based on “knowledge” programmed into it by humans, and only following predetermined rules.

Federated orchestration

Service orchestration performed by multiple autonomous management domains, to effectively allow services to span across several providers.

Functional block

Self contained unit in an overall system that performs a specific function or task.

  • based on TM Forum Reference, TMF071 ODA Terminology, TMF071, Release 19.0.1, October 2019 and ETSI Network Functions Virtualization (NFV); Infrastructure; Methodology to describe Interfaces and Abstractions Reference R08

Hierarchical orchestration

Orchestration decomposed into one or more hierarchical interactions where parts of the service are delegated to a subordinate orchestrator.

Intent-based policy / network

Technology incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to automate administrative tasks across a network.

  • based on TM Forum Reference, TMF071 ODA Terminology, TMF071, Release 19.0.1, October 2019
Intelligent network

An architectural concept for the support, maintenance, operation and provision of new services which is characterised by: information processing, efficient management, control and use of network resources and standardised communication between physical resources, network functions and services.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things, or IoT, is a system of interrelated networking computing devices, mechanical and digital machines aimed  at objects, animals or people and provided with unique identifiers (UIDs) and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

Machine learning (ML)

Processes that enable computational systems to “understand” data and gain “knowledge” from it without necessarily being explicitly programmed. (Supervised machine learning and unsupervised machine learning are two examples of machine learning.)


The processes aiming at fulfilment, assurance, and billing of services, network functions, and resources in both physical and virtual infrastructure including compute, storage, and network resources.

Management API

A Management API allows a service requestor to perform all management operations before, during and after the use of a service.

  • based on TM Forum Reference, TMF071 ODA Terminology, TMF071, Release 19.0.1, October 2019

Management domain

A collection of physical or functional elements under the control of an entity, aiming at fulfilment, assurance, and billing of services, network functions, and resources in both physical and virtual infrastructure.

Maturity level

A maturity level is a defined evolutionary plateau for organisational process improvement. Each maturity level matures an important subset of the organisation’s processes, preparing it to move to the next maturity level. The maturity levels are measured by the achievement of the specific and generic goals associated with each predefined set of process areas.

Maturity model

A maturity model is an instrument that evaluates the current position of certain capabilities of an organisation and provides indications of how it can transform to improve.


Microservices is an approach to software architecture that builds a large, complex application from multiple small components that each perform a single function, such as authentication, notification, or payment processing. Each microservice is a distinct unit within the software development project, with its own code base, infrastructure, and database. The microservices work together, communicating through web APIs or messaging queues to respond to incoming events.

Natural language processing (NLP)

Natural language processing (NLP) refers to the branch of AI concerned with giving computers the ability to understand text and spoken words in much the same way human beings can.

Network automation

Network automation is the process of automating the configuration, management, testing, deployment, and operations of physical and virtual devices within a network.

Network controller

Functional block that centralizes some or all of the control and management functionality of a network domain and may provide an abstract view of its domain to other functional blocks via well-defined interfaces.

Network function

Network Function (NF) – a functional building block within a network infrastructure, which has well-defined external interfaces and a well-defined functional behaviour.

Network function disaggregation (NFD)

Defines the evolution of switching and routing appliances from proprietary, closed hardware and software sourced from a single vendor, towards totally decoupled, open components which are combined to form a complete switching and routing device.

Network intelligence level

A three-level application of automation capabilities (i.e., full automated infrastructure management, data centre infrastructure management and traceable/intelligent patch cords), including those enabled by integrating artificial intelligence techniques in the network.

Network namespaces

Network namespaces is a virtualization mechanism (a virtualised networking stack) which provides abstraction and virtualisation of network protocol services and interfaces. Each network namespace has its own network device instances that can be configured with individual network addresses.

Network orchestration

Network orchestration is the execution of the operational and functional processes involved in designing, creating, and delivering an end-to-end service. For example, it uses network automation to provide services through the use of applications that drive the network. An orchestrator functions to arrange and organise the various components involved in delivering a network service.

Network resource

Physical or logical network component of hardware, software or data in the data, control or management planes within an organization's infrastructure.

  • internal definition

Network service

A collection of network functions with a well specified behavior (i.e. content delivery networks (CDNs) and IP multimedia subsystem (IMS)).

Network slicing

Network slicing is a specific form of virtualisation that allows multiple logical networks to run on top of a shared physical network infrastructure. (..) The intent of network slicing is to be able to partition the physical network at an end-to-end level to allow optimum grouping of traffic, isolation from other tenants, and configuring of resources at a macro level.

Network slice instance

A Network slice instance is a set of Network Function instances and the required resources (e.g. compute, storage and networking resources) which form a deployed Network Slice.

  • based on TM Forum Reference, TMF071 ODA Terminology, TMF071, Release 19.0.1, October 2019 and 3GPP TS 23.501.


Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) is a network architecture concept that uses virtualization to classify entire classes of network node functions into building blocks that may connect, or chain together, to create communication services. More specifically, it is the deployment of software implementations of traditional network functions (e.g. load balancers, firewalls, office switches/routers) on virtualized infrastructure rather than on function-specific specialized hardware devices.


(Network Functions Virtualisation Management and Orchestration)

Management and orchestration (MANO) is a key element of the ETSI network functions virtualization (NFV) architecture. MANO is an architectural framework that coordinates network resources for cloud-based applications and the lifecycle management of virtual network functions (VNFs) and network services. As such, it is crucial for ensuring rapid, reliable NFV deployments at scale. MANO includes the following components: the NFV orchestrator (NFVO), the VNF manager (VNFM), and the virtual infrastructure manager (VIM).

NFV-MANO Architectural Framework

(Network Functions Virtualisation Management and Orchestration Architectural Framework)

Collection of all functional blocks (including those in NFV-MANO category as well as others that interwork with NFV-MANO), data repositories used by these functional blocks, and reference points and interfaces through which these functional blocks exchange information for the purpose of managing and orchestrating NFV.


(Network Functions Virtualisation Orchestrator)

Functional block that manages the Network Service (NS) lifecycle and coordinates the management of NS lifecycle, VNF lifecycle (supported by the VNFM) and NFVI resources (supported by the VIM) to ensure an optimized allocation of the necessary resources and connectivity.

OpenFlow protocol

OpenFlow protocol is a protocol defined by the OpenFlow Switch Specification that allows separation of the network control plane by providing access to the forwarding plane.

OpenFlow (standard)

OpenFlow is an open standard that enables you to control traffic and run experimental protocols in an existing network by using a remote controller. The OpenFlow components consist of a controller, an OpenFlow or OpenFlow-enabled switch, and the OpenFlow protocol.


Open source software for creating private and public clouds. OpenStack software controls large pools of compute, storage, and networking resources throughout a data center, managed through a dashboard or via the OpenStack API.

Open virtual network (OVN)

Open Virtual Network (OVN) is an Open vSwitch-based software-defined networking (SDN) solution for supplying network services to instances.

Open vSwitch (OVS)

Open source multilayer virtual switch that supports standard interfaces and protocols.

Operational domain

Scope of management delineated by an administrative and technological boundary.

  • based on TM Forum Reference, TMF071 ODA Terminology, TMF071, Release 19.0.1, October 2019 

Orchestration (ONAP)

The arrangement, sequencing and automated implementation of tasks, rules and policies to coordinate logical and physical resources in order to meet a customer or on-demand request to create, modify or remove network or service resources.

  • from: TM Forum Technical Specification, Terminology for Zero-touch Orchestration, Operations and Management, TMF071, Release 17.0.1, November 2017, version 0.4.1, IPR Mode RAND 
  • (synonyms for the system performing the function: manager, coordinator)
Process automation

Process automation refers to the usage of technology to automate complex processes. It typically has three functions: automating processes, centralising information, and reducing the requirement for input from people. It is designed to remove bottlenecks and reduce errors and data loss, all while increasing transparency, communication across departments, and processing speed.

Reinforcement learning

Reinforcement learning, in the context of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), is a type of dynamic programming that trains algorithms using a system of reward and punishment.

Resource slice

A grouping of physical or virtual (network, compute, storage) resources. A resource slice could be one of the components of Network Slice, however on its own does not represent fully a Network Slice.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a type of AI; it is a software technology that allows people to configure robots to perform rules-based tasks. It can be particularly useful for processes with predictable and frequent interactions with multiple applications.

  • based on TM Forum AI Fundamentals course [TMF_AIF] and TM Forum “AI and its pivotal role in transforming operations” report and webinar [TMF_AI] 

Software-defined networking (SDN)

A programmable network approach that supports the separation of control and forwarding planes via standardized interfaces. 


A process by which computer systems or networks automatically adapt their own configuration of components without human direct intervention.

Self-organising network (SON)

The term self-organising network comes from the mobile radio network industry and refers to automated planning, configuration, management, optimisation and healing of a network.

Service access point

A Service Access Point is a kind of Resource Function (RF) that handles access into and out of another RF, such as an application RF or virtualized appliance RF.

  • TM Forum Reference, TMF071 ODA Terminology, TMF071, Release 19.0.1, October 2019

Service chaining (NFV)

Network service chaining, also known as service function chaining (SFC) is a capability that uses software-defined networking (SDN) capabilities to create a service chain of connected network services (such as L4-7 like firewalls, network address translation [NAT], intrusion protection) and connects them in a virtual chain.  This capability can be used by network operators to set up suites or catalogs of connected services that enable the use of a single network connection for many services, with different characteristics.

Software (Engineering) Governance

Software Engineering Governance or Software Governance is the set of structures, processes and policies by which the software development and deployment function within an organisation is directed and controlled to yield business values and to mitigate risk.

Software defined exchanges (SDX)

Software Defined IXP (SDX) is an internet exchange that utilizes SDN to do interdomain routing. In addition, SDX design incorporates high levels of programmability, open APIs, shared resources across multiple domains, dynamic provisioning, resource discovery, quick resource integration and configuration, and granulated control of resources.

  • internal definition based on https://sdx.cs.princeton.edu/ and J. Mambretti, J. Chen, F. Yeh, Software-Defined Network Exchanges (SDXs): Architecture, services, capabilities, and foundation technologies, 2014 26th International Teletraffic Congress (ITC), DOI: 10.1109/ITC.2014.6932970.
Supervised learning / Supervised machine learning

Supervised learning, also known as supervised machine learning, is an approach to creating artificial intelligence (AI), where a computer algorithm is trained on input data that has been labelled for a particular output. The model is trained until it can detect the underlying patterns and relationships between the input and output labels, enabling it to yield accurate labelling results when presented with never-before-seen data.

Also: “Note 2 – Supervised machine learning and unsupervised machine learning are two examples of machine learning types.” From ITU Recommendation Y.3172 (06/19).

Switch abstraction interface (SAI)

Definition of the API to provide a vendor-independent way of controlling forwarding elements, such as a switching ASIC, an NPU or a software switch in a uniform manner.

Technical Reference Model (TRM)

Architecture of generic services and functions that provides a foundation on which more specific architectures and architectural components can be built.

Unsupervised learning / Unsupervised machine learning

Unsupervised learning, also known as unsupervised machine learning, uses machine learning algorithms to analyse and cluster unlabelled datasets. These algorithms discover hidden patterns or data groupings without human intervention. Its ability to discover similarities and differences in information makes it the ideal solution for exploratory data analysis, cross-selling strategies for offering different products to customers, customer segmentation, and image recognition.

User interface orchestration

User Interface Orchestration defines, formats and structures the sequence of user interfaces (UIs) needed for a process. For example, the orchestration of UI during a service request from customers.

  • based on TM Forum Reference, TMF071 ODA Terminology, TMF071, Release 19.0.1, October 2019 and IG1167 R18.0 "ODA Functional Architecture" Reference R21

Virtual content delivery network

A content delivery network using virtualisation technology that enables the allocation of virtual storage, virtual machines, and network resources according to providers' requirements in a dynamic and scalable manner.

Virtual eXtensible Local Area Network (VXLAN)

Virtual eXtensible Local Area Network (VXLAN) enables the encapsulation of Ethernet frames inside UDP packets with a designated UDP destination port (4789). VXLAN allows users to overlay L2 networks on top of existing L3 networks. In the data center, it is commonly used to stretch an L2 network across multiple racks.

Virtual routing and forwarding (VRF)

Virtual Routing and Forwarding is a layer 3 abstraction, which provides a separate routing table for each instance, usually this is done by adding some sort of VRFID to the routing table lookup.


Abstraction of network or service objects to make them appear generic, i.e. disassociated from the underlying hardware implementation specifics.

  • internal definition

Virtualised network function (VNF) - virtual network function

Virtual Network Function (VNF) is a network task written as software that can be provided in a virtualised manner (i.e. firewall, router, switch).


The sequence of steps through which a piece of work passes from initiation to completion.

Workflow management

Workflow management (WFM) is a technology supporting the re-engineering of business and information processes. It involves: Defining workflows, (...) and providing for fast (re)design and (re)implementation of the processes as business needs and information systems change.


Abbreviation/ Acronym


ABEAggregate Business Entity
ACMMAnalysis Capability Maturity Model
AIArtificial Intelligence
AIOpsArtificial Intelligence for IT Operations
AMCAutonomic Management and Control
AMMAutomation Maturity Model
ACMMArchitecture Capability Maturity Model
AWSAmazon Web Services
BPMMBusiness Process Maturity Model
BPMNBusiness Process Model and Notation


Business Support System


Ciena Blue Planet

CDEComponent DEscription
CDNContent Delivery Network
CMM(Service) Capability Maturity Model
CMMICapability Maturity Model Integrated
CNACloud Native Application


Container Network Interface


Communications Service Provider

D&IDecoupling & Integration


Data Centre


Data Communication Network

DEDecision Element
DPMMDocument Process Maturity Model
DPRADigital Platform Reference Architecture
DTNData Transfer Node
EACMEnterprise Architecture Content Metamodel
EGMEngagement Management
eLMMe-Learning Maturity Model


European Telecommunications Standards Institute


Ethernet VPN

FOSSFree and Open Source Software


Free Range Routing

GANAGeneric Autonomic Networking Architecture


Generic Network Virtualisation Encapsulation


Generic Routing Encapsulation

GSGroup Specification


Generalised Virtualisation Model

IaaSInfrastructure as a Service


Infrastructure as Code

IDEIntegrated Development Environment
IDSPIntegrated Digital Service Provider


Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers 


Internet Engineering Task Force

IMIntelligence Management
IMSIP Multimedia Subsystem


Internet Research Task Force
IS/ICT CMFInformation Systems and Information Communication Technology Management Capability Maturity Framework
ISOInternational Organisation for Standardisation
ISO 15504 – SPICESoftware Process Improvement and Capability Determination
IT-BSC Maturity ModelIT governance tool Balanced Scorecard Maturity Model
ITPM3IT Performance Measurement Maturity Model


International Telecommunication Union



LSOLifecycle Service Orchestration


Management and Orchestration

MCCManagement-Control Continuum


Multi-Domain Service Orchestration

MDVPNMulti-Domain Virtual Private Networks
MEManaged Entity


Metro Ethernet Forum


Network as a Service


Network as Code


Network Automation and Orchestration


Network Controls and Orchestration

NENetwork Element


Network Equipment Providers


Network Configuration Protocol

NFNetwork Function
NFDNetwork Function Disaggregation


Network Function Virtualisation


Network Function Virtualisation Infrastructure


Network Function Virtualisation Orchestrator


Next Generation Network

NMMNetwork Maturity Model


National Research and Education Network


Network Resource Optimisation

NSNetwork Service


Network Service Agent


Network Service Interface

NSSAINetwork Slice Selection Assistance Information

Network Virtualisation over GRE (Generic Routing Encapsulation)

OAMPOperations, Administration, Maintenance and Provisioning
OASISOrganisation for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards


Orchestration, Automation and Virtualisation

OCPOpen Compute Project
ODAOpen Digital Architecture



ODMOperational Domain Management/Manager
OESSOpen Exchange Software Suite


Open Grid Forum


Open Networking Automation Platform


Open Network Operating System


Open Platform for NFV Project


Open Source MANO


Operations Support System


Open Virtual Network

OVSOpen vSwitch


Platform as a Service


Research and Development


Research & Education

RESTRepresentational State Transfer
RFResource Function
SaaSSoftware as a Service


Switch Abstraction Interface


Software-Defined Data Center


Software Defined Network

SDOStandards Developing Organization


Software-Defined networking in a Wide Area Network (WAN)


Software-Defined Exchange


Service Function Chaining (also known as Network Service Chaining)

S-NSSAISingle Network Slice Selection Assistance Information
SOAService Oriented Architecture


Service Provider Architecture


Service and Technology Forum

STPService Termination Point


Stateless Transport Tunneling


TM Forum

TOGAFThe Open Group Architecture Framework
TOSCATopology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications


Virtual Content Delivery Network


Virtual Infrastructure Management


Virtual Machine


Virtual Network Function

VNFMVirtualised Network Function Manager
VNOVirtual Network Operator


Virtual Private Network 


Vector Packet Processing 


Virtual Routing Function


Virtual Switch Instance


Virtual Tunnel End Point


Virtual Extensible LAN

WFMWorkflow Management


Anything as a Service


eXpress Data Path

ZOOMZero-touch Orchestration, Operations and Management
ZSMZero-touch network and Service Management


Zero Touch Provisioning

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