The merger of two big open source network functions virtualization (NFV) orchestration and management initiatives could provide the shot in the arm the technology needs. They are the AT&T-led open source ECOMP and China Mobile-led Open Orchestrator (OPEN-O) projects.
The Linux Foundation announced the merger today called the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP). AT&T and China Mobile are driving ONAP with a diverse group of founding members. Platinum members include Amdocs, AT&T, Bell Canada, China Mobile, China Telecom, Cisco, Ericsson, GigaSpaces, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Nokia, Orange, Tech Mahindra, VMware and ZTE, and silver members of ONAP are BOCO Inter-Telecom, Canonical, China Unicom, Cloudbase Solutions, Metaswitch and Raisecom.
“By combining two of the largest open source networking initiatives, the community is able to take advantage of the best architectural components of both projects,” Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of The Linux Foundation said in a press release. “We’re excited to see the industry coalesce around ONAP with this unprecedented merger. Such a broad effort and investment will expedite our vision to deliver an open platform for network automation.”
Consolidation of resources
Alignment of the two projects is expected to create a harmonized and comprehensive framework for real-time, policy-driven software automation of virtual network functions. By consolidating member resources, ONAP is well positioned to deliver a unified architecture and implementation, with an open standards upstream focus, faster than any one project could on its own.
“AT&T is excited to be working with a larger team on the future, open source network operating system for SDN automation,” said Chris Rice, senior vice president of Domain 2.0 Architecture and Design at AT&T. “Creating a combined team of the initial 10 open source ECOMP members with the existing OPEN-O members bodes well for the project’s success… We expect more consolidation in this space, and we expect many more service providers and other technology leaders to join us in this important work, which benefits the entire industry.”
“More consolidation” could indicate that ONAP is hoping to convince members of a third open source management and orchestration effort, Open Source MANO, which is sponsored by ETSI and led by Telefonica, to join the team.
AT&T has been openly pushing for ECOMP to become the de facto standard for NFV orchestration and management and succeeded last year in getting Orange and Bell Canada to join the club, so the merger with Open-O is not completely unexpected but it is somewhat surprising. Many observers have said in the past, and we concurred, that it would be difficult for AT&T and China Mobile to join forces because of political and geographical differences.
Seizing the opportunity
Laurent Leboucher, Vice President of APIs and Digital Ecosystems, Orange, and Chairman of TM Forum’s Collaboration Subcommittee sees the merger as an opportunity for industry-wide transformation.
“This merger is a fantastic opportunity to create a very strong common software foundation for operators across the world. In Orange, we want to bet on this ‘network operating system’ to transform the way we operate our network, become more agile and create new business opportunities,” he said. “This will represent a strong shift also for the whole industry. TM Forum can play a key role to define the new generation BSS and OSS and the new operating models on top of this common foundation.”
During a Telco Transformation radio show today, James Crawshaw, senior analyst of OSS/BSS Transformation, Heavy Reading, said he was surprised that the ONAP merger happened so quickly. The deal simplifies the NFV management and orchestration landscape, he said, adding, “it’s good news and will make things easier for operators.”
Some operators have been putting off technology decisions because of the competing projects, Crawshaw said. This may spur some who have been hesitant to move forward with NFV deployment to begin or increase deployment.
The Linux Foundation will establish a governance and membership structure for ONAP to nurture a vibrant technical community. A Governing Board will guide business decisions, marketing and ensure alignment between the technical communities and members. The technical steering committee will provide leadership on the code merge and guide the technical direction of ONAP.