Traffic in the Internet backbone is expected to grow above a few Tbit/s in 2020. To cope with this, operators are moving to IP/optical network architectures, where IP is the convergence layer for all services. On the other hand, the quality of service (QoS) requirements of future applications encompasses the individualization of services and the assurance of stricter quality parameters such as latency, jitter or capacity. In other words, future optical networks will not only transport more IP data, but they will also have to offer differentiated QoS requirements to services. Finally, some emerging applications, e.g., grid computing, need greater flexibility in the usage of network resources, which involves establishing and releasing connections as if they were virtualized resources controlled by other elements or layers. In this context, traffic-driven lightpath provisioning and service-plane approaches arise as very interesting candidate solutions to solve the main challenges described above. This work reviews the concepts of service-oriented and self-managed networks and relates them to propose an integrated approach to assure QoS by offering flow-aware networking in the sense that traffic demands will be anticipated in a suitable way, lightpaths will be established taking into account QoS information (i.e.
, impairments) and complex services will be decomposed into optical connections so that the above techniques can be employed to assure QoS for any service.