Proof of concept

TM Forum, MEF and ONAP collaborate on Beijing release

The Beijing release of the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP), unveiled today, incorporates the work of several TM Forum Catalyst proof-of-concept projects and includes TM Forum Open APIs that have been extended by MEF. Cooperation among the groups makes it possible for communications service providers (CSPs) to use ONAP to automate orchestration of services end to end across partners’ networks.

“We are well on the way to achieving our goal of harmonizing open source and open standards to accelerate deployment and adoption of future network architectures,” Arpit Joshipura, General Manager, Networking, The Linux Foundation, said in a TM Forum press release. “Our progress has been rapid since announcing our partnership with TM Forum back in March.  We have seen the inclusion of TM Forum Open APIs in the ONAP Beijing Release, and beyond, as well as the practical implementations showcased in TM Forum’s Catalyst projects.”

Chris Rice, Chairman of The Linux Foundation Networking Board and Senior Vice President of Domain 2.0 Architecture and Design at AT&T, added: “ONAP was designed from the ground up to enable rapid deployment and orchestration of new network services, and it’s great to be a part of these TM Forum Catalyst projects showcasing those capabilities. The combination of open source software and open standards create agile, flexible platforms for service providers to use. With this approach, open standards can be developed quickly based on real-world requirements, and open source code can be used to ensure interoperability of those standards. This is an example of two organizations, each best-in-class, coming together to benefit the entire industry.”

The Catalyst projects, which were demonstrated recently at Digital Transformation World, provided early implementation feedback to the ONAP project and MEF, improving the overall quality of their respective deliverables. The Open APIs incorporated into ONAP include the Service Ordering, Service Catalog and Service Inventory APIs.

Automating Naas

The Automating network as a service Catalyst, which was championed by AT&T, MEF, Orange, Telstra and Vodafone with Ciena Blue Planet, DGIT, Infosys and Riverbed as participants, was an important proof of concept, showing how CSPs can decouple operational and business support systems (OSS/BSS) from underlying resources by having network domains ‘expose’ services. That way the IT systems don’t have to configure the network at the resource level. This is a huge change to OSS/BSS, which will increase agility, reduce operational costs and dramatically improve CSPs’ time to market with new services.

The Catalyst team showed how enterprise customers could order products such as Ethernet, SD-WAN and a virtual firewall running in ONAP through a self-service portal. These products then were automatically activated across hybrid networks made up of virtualized and physical components. This work is key not only to the Beijing release but also to demonstrating the TM Forum Open Digital Architecture and MEF’s Lifecycle Services Orchestration (LSO) Reference Architecture.

“ODA is a complete rethink of OSS/BSS,” said Greg Tilton, Founder and CEO, DGIT Systems. “The game has fundamentally changed because service providers need to touch customers through lots of different digital channels – omnichannel. They also need to dynamically take new offers to market that include not only capabilities they have, but also capabilities from partners – and do that really rapidly. At the same time underneath the OSS/BSS, networks have been getting much smarter and standardizing the way they expose what we now call network as a service. Because you’ve got a smarter network and omnichannel on top, the requirements for OSS/BSS fundamentally change.”

Thierry Souche, Orange Group CIO, said: “Bringing together standards and open source contributions is THE way forward. In Orange, we strongly support TM Forum open APIs and ONAP. In a matter of a few months our team contributed a polymorphic API implementation for the first ONAP northbound APIs (service order, service catalog and service inventory) to the ONAP Beijing release, representing more than 11,000 lines of code and more than 75 commits. At the same time, these ‘network as a service’ APIs were proven by the Automating network as a service Catalyst, together with MEF – a significant step for IT and network communities around the world.”

Carlos Valero, Global IT Strategy & Architecture Director, Vodafone, commented: “Showcasing innovation on its own is not enough – operators must deliver automated, interoperable services at scale on shared platforms. These award-winning Catalyst projects demonstrated very different innovations, but, crucially, for the first time they were built on a common reference architecture combining ONAP, TM Forum Open APIs and MEF-defined service payloads. We see this as a critical step towards bringing these innovations to life for our customers.”

Pascal Menezes, CTO, MEF, added: “The advanced and complex use cases showcased in these Catalysts are excellent examples of how the MEF 3.0 framework, including the MEF services definitions and LSO Reference Architecture, can be used in combination with TM Forum APIs to accelerate the transformation and automation of service providers’ business and operational systems. MEF’s inter-provider LSO Sonata API standardization effort extends multiple TM Forum Open APIs to enable orchestration of MEF 3.0 Carrier Ethernet and other emerging MEF 3.0 services.”

5G planning and operations

Two 5G Catalysts, 5G intelligent service operations and 5G intelligent service planning and optimization, also contributed to ONAP Beijing. The operations project, which was championed by AT&T, BT, KDDI, NTT, Orange, TIM, Telenor and Vodafone with MYCOM-OSI, Netcracker, Tech Mahindra and TEOCO as participants, used a Tour de France scenario to demonstrate how CSPs can enable new revenue streams by creating and managing multiple 5G slice-based services on the same physical infrastructure. The services included 4K video streaming, drone-based broadcasting and IoT-provided statistics. The team integrated ONAP policy management with service orchestration and an external assurance system to provide end-to-end closed loop implementation and monitoring of network slices.

“Effective service-level monitoring and policy management will be paramount to ensure CSP customer satisfaction,” said TEOCO CTO, Shachar Ebel. “TEOCO is proud to have played a leading role in the 5G intelligent service operations Catalyst alongside our collaborators. The resulting open ecosystem demonstrates how closed-loop automation can ensure quality of service across dynamic and static network slices, allowing new-generation services to be operationalized, orchestrated and monetized.”

The 5G planning project, which was championed by AT&T, BT, NTT, Orange and TIM with Aria Networks, Ericsson, MYCOM-OSI and Wipro as participants, demonstrated how a 5G network can be dynamically planned, optimized, integrated and assured, also using the Tour de France scenario. The team showed dynamic service creation and planning along with reactive and proactive closed loop automation in conjunction with artificial intelligence to provide an optimized and personalized customer experience.

“We believe that the digital first approach is a necessity to capitalize on the potential of 5G, and service providers who digitally transform now will be in pole position to turn on 5G,” said Mats Karlsson, Head of OSS, Ericsson. “Collaboration across industry organizations, as seen in these Catalyst projects, is key to achieving a digital first architecture and the unprecedented agility it will bring.”

Viswanathan Ramaswamy, VP and 5G Champion, Wipro Limited, added: “While 5G significantly increases communication capabilities, cost effectiveness will be the key driver for large scale adoption. This emphasizes the need for industry collaboration to create solutions for dynamic planning and continuous optimization of resources in line with varied and changing business requirements.”

Blade Runner

The Blade Runner Catalyst, which was championed by AT&T, BT, Du, NTT, Orange, TIM, Verizon and Vodafone with BearingPoint, CENX, EXFO, Infosys, and Riverbed as participants, demonstrated end-to-end orchestration and closed loop assurance of cloud services across a diverse partner ecosystem. The team developed a complex and interesting enterprise use case using augmented reality to help a local engineer in a Dubai mine repair earth-moving equipment (such as from Caterpillar or JCB) by receiving instructions from an expert located at an enterprise customer’s facility in Germany. The project demonstrated the need for the different orchestration layers proposed in ODA and used ONAP as a technology-specific domain orchestrator for resource-facing services.

“The Blade Runner Catalyst project is a poster child of collaboration between service providers and the supplier ecosystem coming together to create common TOSCA/YANG model-based cloud services that can be deployed end to end across multiple service provider environments using TM Forum Open APIs with speed and efficiency, meeting the needs for 5G network slices, mobile edge computing and closed loop service assurance,” said Shankar Arumugavelu, Senior Vice President and Global CIO, Verizon. “This project is helping us explore new, ‘art of the possible’ use cases.”

What’s next?

TM Forum intends to continue collaborating with MEF and ONAP to further enhance the Open APIs that have been included in the Beijing release and hopefully to add others in ONAP’s next planned release, Casablanca. One addition that will be needed, for example, is a performance management API. Work starts next week on Casablanca – ironically at a meeting in Beijing.

“These ground-breaking Catalyst projects demonstrate just how important and powerful collaboration is to success in today’s market,” said TM Forum CEO Nik Willetts, CEO of TM Forum. “By bringing together industry-leading service and solution providers, open source and open standards groups with a commitment and passion to drive real change, we are unlocking the power of open innovation for our industry.”


    About The Author

    Managing Editor

    Dawn Bushaus began her career in technology journalism in 1989 at Telephony magazine, which means she’s been writing about networking for a quarter century. (She wishes she didn’t have to admit that because it probably gives you a good idea of how old she really is.) In 1996, Dawn joined a team of journalists to start a McGraw-Hill publication called, and in 2000, she helped a team at Ziff-Davis launch The Net Economy, where she held senior writing and editing positions. Prior to joining TM Forum, she worked as a freelance analyst for Heavy Reading.

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