The creation of the Open Network Automation Platform from two open source efforts -- Open Orchestrator and open source ECOMP, AT&T's internal platform -- is proceeding at a rapid pace as the new group takes on new members and works to harmonize two code bases.
Chris Rice, senior vice president of
AT&T Labs , is the group's first chair, but is expecting to serve a one-year term because, as he tells Telco Transformation in an interview at the Open Networking Summit, broader involvement and direction for ONAP
is key to its success.
In the first of two stories from that interview, Rice shares details of how the 8 million lines of code developed over three years for ECOMP
is being brought together with the initial code release of OPEN-O, a year-old open source group, in a way that meets the goals of ONAP's diverse membership. In part two later this week, he shares some insights on technical details of that merger.
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Telco Transformation: When you're looking at the scope of the project where it stands now, with the folks that are joining now, are you expecting a lot of contributions initially, or do you expect people to be more concerned with how to harmonize the existing code bases and determine what the structure is going to look like?
Chris Rice: I'm going to answer that with a yes, and here's why: There have been a large number of contributions, a hundred plus, already from the platinum members. Some of those are fairly small, because when people use a code, they find something that fixed a small little bug, or something like that, or they extended it in a certain way. I expect that number to climb dramatically. We're excited about that. I think it's interesting to see where this will be taken.
TT: Can you address how you bring the two pieces together?
CR: A lot of work has been happening behind the scenes on that. I honestly don't think that's going to be a delay in any way, shape, or form for the project because we've got good alignment around those areas. Quite frankly, things like this never happen in terms of harmonization or connecting if there's not a pretty good idea of how this will work out ahead of time.
We spent a long time making sure that happened. I was on calls with China either later at night or early in the morning and vice versa for them to make sure that this happened appropriately. I don't foresee any major issues associated with bringing together these areas. We've been real clear with what the direction will be, what the architecture will be, and everybody seems to be on board with that. The Linux Foundation is on board with that.
I think, importantly, we're going to be creating what I'll call case law when we do this. The reason I'm saying that is that for how we will bring in and onboard other projects, and the way we'll do it, and the methodology we'll use and all those other things. I don't know that this will be the only time we do this. I've been real clear with the folks on the TSC [Technical Steering Committee] that we are creating case law.
TT: Setting some precedents, right?
CR: Don't just set any precedent. Don't take any shortcuts. Let's make sure we document everything we do, and then next time we have this discussion with a set of folks who might want to join like this we say, "Hey, here's our process that we'll use," and they'll know upfront exactly why and how we'll do it.
TT: There has been a lot of discussion here [at ONS] about harmonizing open source groups that may be duplicates or overlapping. Are you blazing the trail for that?
CR: There's duplicate and overlapping projects, and then the question is, is it really in the industry's best interest to have that model or is there a way to harmonize those things? I think that Jim [Zemlin, Linux Foundation executive director] and his team have proven over time that they are good at making that happen. I think you'll see more and more of that. They understand that the best thing to do is get these folks together to understand the way collaboration works, understand each other's side, and then say, "How do we work together better?" I think you'll see more and more of that.
TT: Is it always clear how that happens?
CR: Harmonization can take many forms. It can be separate and overlapping. It can be [about how] we get synergistic things together under what I'll call focused innovation. I've had different sets of folks reach out to me as the ONAP chair around, let's call it liaisons. If you think about the classic standards liaison it was like, "Well, we'll tell you what we're doing, and we'll tell you what we're doing, and we'll try and figure out if there's a way that we connect together."
This is more like, "Hey, look. We're going to build some of this reference code. It makes sense for us to have this reference code in some kind of LSO [lifecycle services orchestration] framework. Yours could be that framework. You guys could take this reference code and add to it and harden it." It's much more building and much more agile in the way that you think about doing that.
I wonder if the next model that we look at that builds a better synergy between these two things that somewhat feed each other? In other words, not just, I take your paper and I interpret your paper and I recreate the paper -- but code is the new currency. I get code -- it's reference code. I build on that code. I make a more hardened version of that. I add that to my project, but we still have the same pointer that says this is version two, and here's the documentation for version two, and it started here at version one. That code might not necessarily start in this project, but it may move to this project, but now that reference code is still the same reference code for each project.
I think that's the idea, at least in my mind of how you build on top of one another and how you get, again, a more agile process.
— Mike Robuck, Editor, Telco Transformation
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