Telefónica ‘gets its hands dirty’ with new OnLife Network

Telefónica is taking a do-it-yourself approach to its new OnLife Networks vision, including building some of its own virtual functions and handling integration.

“We have consciously tried to simplify the architecture, and to do that we have refused to go and see a large vendor or integrator and give them a mandate – we’ve decided to learn by ourselves,” Patrick Lopez, Vice President Networks Innovation, Telefónica, told attendees of NFV World Congress Thursday. The event was streamed live on Telecom TV.

In his keynote, Lopez offered new details about the OnLife architecture, which is a CORD-based (central office rearchitected as a data center) platform the company has developed over the past eight months. Telefónica has built much of it on its own using open source technology and DevOps processes but has purchased some virtual functions such as virtual private network routers, firewalls and optical line terminals.

The platform, which uses white-label infrastructure that is compliant with Open Rack specifications from Facebook published in the Open Compute Project, will serve mobile and fixed residential and enterprise customers. It is currently being deployed in Spain and will have live customers during the next couple weeks.

Do it yourself

“We’ve integrated it ourselves,” Lopez said. “Our team is composed of programmers and UX experts… All this talk of automation, SDN [software-defined networking] and virtualization is not going to fundamentally change the service provider part of the industry unless the service providers get their hands dirty. You won’t get the OpEx savings promise unless you can program the automation yourself.”

The Onlife platform architecture is similar to the ETSI vision with a control layer, virtualization of resources and virtual functions. Telefónica is using a microservices architecture and will use containers to improve performance. The company is integrating the platform with its OSS/BSS and Open Source MANO.

First use cases include virtual CDN [content delivery network] at the edge for applications demanding low latency, augmented and virtual reality for a tourism application, and drone broadcast of video for sporting events. These are not necessarily going to be commercial services but are use cases that demonstrate the infrastructure, Lopez explained.

“OnLife is about becoming more customer-centric,” he said. “What does 5G mean for the user, for the customer? I think the next battle is about delivering experiences that are unique, experiences specific to the customer, the enterprise or thing that’s accessing the connectivity service. To do that we need context – we need to understand who is doing what, how, where and why?

“It’s about being able to deliver services tailored for customer needs,” Lopez concluded. “The only way we have found to do that well, fast and in a cost-effective manner is to do a lot of the heavy lifting ourselves.”


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    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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