During Wednesday's Telco Transformation webinar, France's Orange opened up its ECOMP playbook for the first time by providing details on a trial in its Poland footprint, which will focus on virtual customer premise equipment (vCPE) as its first ECOMP use case.
This past summer, Orange (NYSE: FTE) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) announced they would partner on virtualization projects going forward. (See Seen & Heard: AT&T, Orange Team Up on Open Source & SDN.)
In September, Orange said it would be the first service provider to trial AT&T's Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy (ECOMP) platform, which was followed by October's news that Orange was trialing ECOMP in Poland. (See Seen & Heard: Orange Gears Up for ECOMP .)
Prior to the webinar, Orange was tight-lipped about its ECOMP plans in Poland, but now we know the vCPE trial for Orange's residential customers will occur in four phases.
Phases of vCPE
Orange has defined four phases for its vCPE trial of ECOMP in its Poland footprint.
"The reason we're interested in ECOMP is because it's the only holistic solution that covers design and the operations cycles," said Laurent Leboucher, vice president of APIs and digital ecosystems at Orange, during the webinar. "The [vCPE] use case is simple on purpose because we want to focus on ECOMP. We want to focus on ECOMP even more than vCPE itself."
Several years ago, AT&T developed ECOMP as the automation layer for its network software and virtual functions, tying both virtualized and legacy elements together. At its most basic level, ECOMP is a VNF automation platform.
AT&T is in the process of putting ECOMP into open source by working with the Linux Foundation , which Chris Rice, senior vice president at AT&T Labs, said would occur in the first quarter of this year.
Orange is keeping it simple in the first phase of the trial, which is slated to end in late February. The first phase is "OTT like," with no integration with other production and network systems. Orange's focus in this phase is on the private cloud for now, but down the road vCPE will include "next-generation" PoPs with data centers closer to the customers.
Other phase one goals include: creating and verifying vCPE for residential models with template files, figuring out the minimum set of ECOMP components to start with and getting the ECOMP platform up and running in order to deploy the service and provide Internet access. Leboucher said there wouldn't be monitoring and policy elements in the first phase, and that service provisioning would essentially be manual.
The second phase, which is slated for the second quarter, "becomes much more interesting," according to Leboucher:
"We'll add monitoring capabilities and we'll introduce some KPIs such as latency throughput," he said. "The operational people involved in the project will decide what they want to monitor.
"Phase three is really the most interesting part of the project. We start to automate much more. For instance we focus on service order management, which includes service provisioning for each customer. What we did manually in phase one we'll automate in phase three."
Phase three will also take place in the second quarter, and Orange should be able to tap into the open source version of ECOMP during the first or second phases of the trial.
Phase four is when Orange will move into field trials using "Open ECOMP" with a deployable commercial architecture supported by Orange's operations.
Rice said that when he first started speaking about ECOMP with Leboucher, the discussions centered on the bare minimum number of ECOMP elements Orange would require.
"The nice thing about phase four is it turns out you need all of them as well," Rice said to Leboucher. "As we built ECOMP, we built it in a way such that we knew what we would need in terms of the different components to deliver a service and it turned out it was very similar to what you would need as well. So that's why we think there's some good broad applicability here in terms of what you'll need and quite frankly what others will need as well."
The above reasons factored into AT&T's decision to put ECOMP into open source, Rice said. AT&T is pushing ECOMP to bring some sense of order to the fragmented MANO sector. There are other MANO open source options, such as OPEN-O, but Rice points to the 8.5 million lines of code, eight defined components and two years of production at AT&T as the reasons why ECOMP should be considered by other service providers and the industry at large.
In regards to ECOMP, Rice said on the webinar that that AT&T has met with more than 20 operators from around the world since March. He also stressed that AT&T has offered up all aspects of ECOMP to the Linux Foundation and wasn't holding anything back.
"You'll see more discussions in the coming months, and then with the launch of [open] ECOMP you'll see who is part of it," Rice said.
For more details on Orange's four phases, open ECOMP and AT&T's decision to put it into open source, click check out this webinar.
— Mike Robuck, Editor, Telco Transformation