Microsoft expands its commitment to TM Forum’s Open Digital Architecture
Microsoft has recently made several significant contributions to TM Forum’s Open Digital Architecture (ODA) program, as well as making commitments to support its ongoing development. In this interview with Rick Lievano, Microsoft’s CTO for the worldwide telecommunications industry, and TM Forum’s CTO, George Glass, we explore what lies behind Microsoft’s belief in ODA.
George Glass: Microsoft has been a longstanding contributor to TM Forum’s work, and has recently joined more than 100 of the world’s leading Communications Service Providers (CSPs) and technology ecosystem partners in signing the Open Digital Architecture Manifesto. What has prompted you to take this step now?
Rick Lievano: Microsoft is publicly signaling our full support in helping CSPs digitally transform by adopting the collaboratively developed Open Digital Architecture. We’re stating our commitment to driving the industry’s transformation from legacy OSS/BSS to cloud-native software and replacing traditional IT architectures with the ODA’s standardized plug-and-play software Components, Canvas, data model and Open APIs. We see this as crucial for bringing speed and optionality to service providers. With the adoption of the Open Digital Architecture, operators will be able to introduce and monetize new services quickly and deliver outstanding customer experiences.
George Glass: That sounds interesting, so tell me what has Microsoft been doing to underpin this public commitment?
Rick Lievano: We want to be a leading partner to global CSPs as they adopt ODA. To that end, Microsoft has been contributing to the specification of the ODA Canvas – the standardized operating environment on which ODA’s plug-and-play software Components are deployed. To make this very practical, we have joined the ODA Component Accelerator Project (ODA-CA) which has developed an open-source reference ODA Canvas. Within a few weeks, we ported this Canvas to Microsoft Azure, where we are now fine-tuning and optimizing our Canvas implementation to simplify the development and deployment of ODA Components in the cloud.
George Glass: You talked about implementing ODA on Microsoft Azure, how will that be used?
Rick Lievano: Microsoft is working with the ODA-CA team to make a test Canvas available to TM Forum members as part of the ODA Lab. This supports our collective efforts to develop conformance testing for the ODA Canvas and Components by building a test environment and tooling to verify that vendors' commercial products conform to the ODA Component specifications. In addition, best practices for deploying ODA Components and the ODA Canvas are being developed. Through practical implementation experience, the ODA standards will be accelerated by contributing back into the standardization process.
George Glass: That’s great, so will this enable Microsoft to support your customers with the implementation of the ODA Canvas and Components?
Rick Lievano: Yes, by embracing the TM Forum Open Digital Architecture and Open APIs across our partner ecosystem, Microsoft aims to provide our customers with the agility needed in their evolution from telco to techco. Our Canvas implementation makes use of foundational Azure capabilities like Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) for hosting ODA Components, and provides deployment patterns for identity and access management via Azure Active Directory (AAD), observability via Azure Monitor, and other supporting functions related to the ODA Canvas on Azure. Assets for the solution are available on the ODA-CA GitHub repository, enabling CSPs to easily deploy the ODA Canvas on their Azure subscriptions.
George Glass: Vodafone and other CSP members have embraced ODA and are excited to see the collaboration. Most recently, Lester Thomas, Head of Digital & IT New Technologies & Innovation at Vodafone expressed his delight that Microsoft has joined the Open Digital Architecture Component Accelerator program citing your expertise and how it will help us accelerate the digital transformation of the telecommunications industry.
Why has collaboration with other TM Forum members become important to Microsoft?
Rick Lievano: Our collaborative work with other TM Forum members is defining the journey towards modular, interoperable software for the benefit of our customers and the wider telco industry. Our shared aim is to accelerate the adoption of ODA standards, enabling ISV partners to map their real-world commercial products to ODA. By collaborating with other TM Forum members, we can better support the transition of OSS/BSS workloads to a cloud-native, automated, AI-enabled, and customer-centric architecture.
TM Forum will be sharing the latest news on ODA on the Microsoft stand at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, February 27 – March 2. Come visit us in booth 3H30 in Hall 3 to learn more about ODA and the ODA-CA program.
You can find out more about TM Forum’s Open Digital Architecture at https://www.tmforum.org/oda/