There are two things The Linux Foundation's Arpit Joshipura very much wants you to know about ONAP: It's a platform, not a product, and there are real-world deployments of it underway by service providers. Joshipura outlined those two items and much more ahead of Monday's news that ONAP had issued its first software release.
The platform software release, called Amsterdam, has been in the works since open ECOMP was merged with OPEN-O eight months ago as an open source project in The Linux Foundation. While AT&T's ECOMP has about 8.5 million lines of code, it put close to 6 million of them into open ECOMP, which was combined with millions of code lines from OPEN-O. After some de-coupling, modularization, and closed-loop automation modeling, among other tasks, Amsterdam made its debut with about 5.8 million modular lines of code, according to Joshipura, general manager of networking and orchestration for The Linux Foundation.
Since its inception, Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) has cultivated a roster of 58 members as of last week with 538 contributors across 46 member organizations. The goal of ONAP is to become the de facto automation platform for the telecom industry, but it has received criticism from industry experts that have said the Amsterdam code wasn't stable enough for service providers to use, and that they should hold off until the third or fourth versions are released. Joshipura said that those who were criticizing Amsterdam didn't know enough of the details since they weren't taking part in the ONAP community. (See ONAP Takes Flak as Telcos Prep for Release 1.)
"In our mind, it sets the standard for network service automation," Joshipura said. "We've said automation is mandatory before 5G but you can use it for 4G. You can use this to connect to cloud, for residential and enterprise services, and for IoT services within the infrastructure. It's the first vendor agnostic, model-driven orchestration and automation platform with closed-loop automation.
"People say, 'Oh, it's a packaged product,' but it's not. It's a platform."
Amsterdam is out of the starting blocks with "verified blueprints" for two use cases: voice-over-LTE that allows voice services to be unified onto IP networks, and residential vCPE, which lets service providers spin up new on demand services to residential customers.
"This is a very generic platform that we have created and merged," Joshipura said. "You can have a single code base, a single repository and a single process that is standards compliant, but with all of the innovation inside."
Residential vCPE was a good starting point for ONAP since AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Orange (NYSE: FTE) had already started deploying and testing those types of services in the pre-ONAP era of ECOMP. (See AT&T Offers Network Functions On Demand... Sort Of and Orange Targets vCPE in First ECOMP Trial.)
"One of the criticisms was that we had not publicly communicated who will use this," Joshipura said. "The key is these are early deployments built on a production ready base. There were lots of things that were already in a production environment, for example AT&T and ECOMP."
With the rapid onboarding of VNFs one of the primary goals of ONAP, AT&T has more than 100 of them tested on its on-demand network. Joshipura said that AT&T was also in proof-of-concept trials with self-organizing use cases in LTE with some vendors.
"These are physical network functions (PNFs) and VNFs, as well as a RAN use case with a vendor," Joshipura said. "Then you have AT&T pulling ONAP into all of its internal development environment to stay in sync."
Aside from a pre-ONAP vCPE trial in Poland, Orange has been running ONAP with MEF components in production for the past few months, as the carrier displayed at last week's MEF17 conference in Orlando, Fla. Orange has started setting up an SDN controller model for end-to-end connectivity using ONAP while also planning proofs-of-concept for virtial IMS and virtualized media resource functions (vMRFs) in the first quarter of next year, followed by deployments in the third quarter.
China Mobile is building on its early work in OPEN-O by using ONAP for two major projects. The first is a case-by-case introduction of NFV with legacy PNFs and OSSs at the same time while also building orchestrator functionalities using VFC, multi-cloud and AI modules from ONAP.
"The other project is a whole network infrastructure re-change where they'll use the ONAP platform for their entire distributed data center infrastructure," Joshipura said. "They are going to use all of the components of ONAP."
While AT&T, Orange and China China Mobile Communications Corp. were among the first carriers to join ONAP, Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) is a fairly new recruit. Vodafone is looking at ONAP modules for a transformation program called Ocean.
"Ocean is really the umbrella name for global automated service delivery for virtual elements both in the core and the enterprise markets," Joshipura said. "What they are essentially aiming to do is take ONAP and enable a common approach for virtual functions onboarding control, which is kind of the most important thing that is going to happen."
BCE Inc. (Bell Canada) (NYSE/Toronto: BCE) is also kicking the ONAP tires for eventual production use of modular software-defined capabilities, service orchestration, an SDN controller, AI and analytics components.
"The key is that you can see operators are using the platform in slightly different ways, but that is exactly the point of the platform," Joshipura said. On the vendor front, announced products for ONAP include a service-on-demand offering from Fujitsu and an inter-carrier service orchestrator from Amdocs.
To learn more about Amsterdam, register for this Telco Transformation webinar on Nov. 30.
The second software release, Beijing, is slated for release next summer, and will include scale, stability, security and performance boosters as well as more uses cases for 5G features and inter-cloud connectivity.
— Mike Robuck, Editor, Telco Transformation