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ETSI's Open Source MANO Gets a Makeover

Ray Le Maistre
5/24/2018
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MADRID -- Network Virtualization Europe -- Keen to remind the industry that ONAP isn't the only management and orchestration game in town, European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) announced the latest release of its Open Source MANO (OSM) code and, importantly, issued an accompanying paper about the "lessons learned" from the development and implementation of the software in NFV deployments.

OSM was formed just over two years ago, building on Telefónica's OpenMANO Project, and boasts support from the likes of ADVA, Bell Mobility, BT, CableLabs, Intel, Mavenir, Red Hat, Sprint, Telenor and Verizon. The aim has been to develop "a fully functional orchestrator for NFV implemented as open source and aligned to the ETSI NFV framework." (See OSM Demos First Steps to Open Source MANO.)

Release Four "constitutes a huge leap forward in terms of functionality, user experience and maturity," notes ETSI in its official announcement about the release, highlighting improvements in monitoring and assurance, ease of installation, a "leaner footprint" (up to 75% less RAM consumption) and the addition of a new northbound interface, aligned with ETSI NFV specifications, that enables a single management view of an OSM installation.

Naturally, the operators supporting the initiative were positive and upbeat about the enhancements and the growing industry support for OSM: Telenor ASA (Nasdaq: TELN)'s Pal Gronsund spent part of his presentation here extolling its virtues, saying it has "a lot of great features, much of what we have been looking for. It's a carrier-grade MANO stack… [and is] very important for interoperability."

Francisco Javier Ramón Salguero, head of the Network Virtualisation Initiative and NFV Reference Lab at Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF)'s GCTO Unit, told Light Reading that significant advances have been made in terms of performance management, monitoring and virtual network function (VNF) onboarding, and highlighted the contributions and important feedback from other operators and AWS, noting that members play a vital role in the group without necessarily contributing code to the initiative.

Salguero, as chairman of OSM, is one of the authors of the paper -- Experience With NFV Architecture, Interfaces, And Information Models -- written by the OSM End User Advisory Group that accompanies the new release. Issuing such a paper makes total sense, as it provides insights from network operators into the benefits, and associated challenges, of deploying a MANO, explains the reasoning behind multiple developments and highlights areas of potential further development.

"It's good to see that even though Telefónica is the only operator making significant code contributions to OSM, the user group is seeing strong participation from others that are trialling the software, namely Telenor, BT and Sprint," noted James Crawshaw, senior analyst, CSP IT & Automation, at Heavy Reading, in emailed comments.

The analyst added that there are "some interesting insights in the paper about making OSM more independent of OSS to enable automation and closed loop service assurance. There is also some interesting discussion about why telecom networking is different to cloud, about the cost of tying the VNF too closely to a specific hardware specification, and about the VIM plugin model as a way around VIM diversity (lack of standard interfaces)."

Crawshaw concluded: "It seems to me like OSM is making real progress. It would be good to see a similar paper from the ONAP community."


For more NFV-related coverage and insights, check out our dedicated NFV content channel here on Light Reading.


Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) , of course, is the big beast in the open source MANO cage: Now managed by the Linux Foundation, it has AT&T (which contributed much of the base code) as its main operator cheerleader and also boasts the support of other influential operators such as Bell Canada, China Mobile, China Telecom, Orange, Reliance Jio, Vodafone and Verizon (which is hedging its bets) as well as vendors such as Amdocs, Cisco, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Juniper and Nokia. (See TM Forum, ONAP to Meet in Beijing, Colt Sees ONAP as Longer-Term Industry Orchestration Standard, Bell Canada Reaches Milestone in Network 3.0 Vision With (ONAP) & Hook-Up With Amdocs and ONAP Adds Verizon, Claims De Facto Title.)

But there is still plenty of skepticism about such developments from other members of the operator community, with questions raised about the elements and applications included in the code and also about how developments such as ONAP and OSM relate to each other. (See NFV Is Down but Not Out.)

There are also doubts about the current maturity of the open source initiatives. Wooyong Choi, director of IMS at SK Telecom, noted here during a generally positive presentation about the potential of NFV that the South Korean operator, faced with multiple issues in onboarding and managing VNFs, was forced to develop its own MANO system, dubbed T-MANO, to meet its immediate needs. "There are a number of open source MANO initiatives," noted Choi, recognizing that ONAP and OSM are available alternatives, "but they are not ready for carrier-grade deployment yet."

Perhaps so, but there's little doubt that Salguero and his fellow OSM users will feel confident of persuading Choi otherwise in the near future.

— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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