In his many presentations on ECOMP, leading up to its introduction into open source and its merger with OPEN-O into the ONAP, AT&T's Chris Rice often cited the need for virtual networks functions to be more like Lego blocks and less like snowflakes.
Rice, senior vice president of
AT&T Labs , isn't expecting VNF onboarding to be child's play, but he is hoping for simple processes that can be automated and replicated. And he tells Telco Transformation in part two of this interview from the Open Networking Summit that's a key challenge for ONAP
. See AT&T's Chris Rice Details ECOMP & OPEN-O Merger for Part 1 of this interview.
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Telco Transformation: ECOMP largely used Yang, while OPEN-O predominantly used Tosca. Is that a technical challenge for you, or is the notion of a common information model more the challenge?
Chris Rice: The challenge itself hasn't changed a lot regardless of the two groups coming together. The modelling language -- the fact that we'll use TOSCA, we'll use YANG, we'll use HEAT templates or any of those other things -- that's not as big a challenge, quite frankly, as when you're talking about the data model. I would argue that getting the ecosystem to the point where VNFs look more like Lego blocks than snowflakes, as I've often joked, is the bigger challenge.
Fundamentally as we grow bigger in the service provider community, with more companies who are part of ONAP, it becomes easier for us to make sure that happens. The vendors who get it, they get the fact that this actually improves their life as well because they create one SKU [stock keeping unit] of it, and [that is] so much easier. Getting to that point where those things are done in a very common way with a very common data model with very common data telemetry makes [VNFs] so much easier to onboard, run and manage that some of the speed that we expect and want to get, will happen faster once we finish this.
TT: How fast? What are you thinking?
CR: Just as an example of how fast things can improve -- inside AT&T now, we have the ICE code, which stands for the Incubation and Certification Environment. Essentially that's how we bring in the VNFs. That used to take 22 days when we first started to get a VNF through that process. Some of that was on our side for the automation, but a lot of that was really on what we'd see as the first result. That got down to four days by last year. We expect it will get down to one day by the end of this year. That's a big improvement, but there's still a long way to go.
TT: In announcing ONAP, officials from AT&T and China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL) said they want to see orchestration and OSS tied together more. Do you have some other examples of what you've heard people want to do or what you know is in the works?
CR: I would say that most people are looking for being able to bring things in and have them work. That's the high-level broad goal. Then the question is how best to go about doing that. What languages do you use? What data models do you use? What kind of capabilities do you need to make that happen? When you say you want them to work, are you talking about orchestration? Are you talking about the total lifecycle, which includes how they scale up, how they scale down, the data telemetry they provide, all those kind of things? I get input in all those different areas, and part of it has to do with how far advanced the people asking the questions are.
TT: What is your biggest concern about making this all work?
CR: The first thing you worry about is how do you orchestrate these things? Then after a while once you've orchestrated them you say, "Well, I got them up and running but how to I scale them up, how do I scale them down? How come I have to do that differently for each VNF? They all will have a different command. How do I get my metrics out of these things? How do I get streaming data out of these things?" You realize you need a much better data model, a much better framework to do that as you go down this process further and further.
— Mike Robuck, Editor, Telco Transformation
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