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ONAP Makes Splashy ONS Debut

Carol Wilson
4/5/2017
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Open Networking Summit 2017 – This event has proven to be a major coming out party for ONAP, the newly converged open source MANO organization, with a steady drip of news and podium tributes, capped today by the formal announcement of the initial code release, organizational structure and new members. (See ONAP Announces Code Release, Officers, New Members and Ciena Jumps on ONAP Bandwagon.)

The Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) is the combination of AT&T's open sourcing of its ECOMP platform and Open Orchestrator (Open-O), one of two major open source MANO projects created in early 2016. It represents a major early example of what the Linux Foundation is calling "harmonization" -- the coordinated collaboration and sometimes combination of what has become a plethora of open source networking groups.

For that reason and others, ONAP will be carefully watched for signs that the combination of two approaches to orchestration -- one of which is already up and running in AT&T's network -- actually produces something stronger than the individual efforts, without losing momentum in the process. Adding to that pressure is that ONAP's members serve about 40% of global wireless customers.

While admitting there are challenges and complications to combining two large sets of code, AT&T's Mazin Gilbert, who will head the Technical Steering Committee of ONAP, promised today that the project will issue its first software release in the fourth quarter of the year. Gilbert didn't down play the challenges, but pointed to the modular approach each project has taken as one point in favor of being able to make a combination work.


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One early test will be unification of a higher-level information model, Gilbert said. That would enable the combined project to continue using different data models in different layers of the ecosystem. That's important because Tosca is the modeling language adopted by Open-O, and used in some parts of ECOMP, but the latter makes wider use of Yang, which is the more traditional telecom networking approach.

"Tosca is an evolving capability -- when we started [ECOMP] four to five years ago, it was at its infancy and not production quality," Gilbert commented. "In reality, there is not one data model that is the right model, there are multiple layers to this and those may use different data models. The first challenge is unification at a higher-level information model."

Developing a target architecture that considers OSSs as well as NFV/SDN and service delivery is another major issue, said Yachen Wang, deputy director of the network technology department at China Mobile Research Institute and president of ONAP.

And one key goal is to create a standard approach to the onboarding and lifecycle management of virtual network functions (VNFs) so that potentially thousands of these can be introduced, and onboarded by users is an automated process, Gilbert says. Today, VNF onboarding requires teams of developers.

ONAP will be operator-led. The governing board officers are individuals from three operators who are platinum members: Chris Rice, senior vice president of AT&T Labs, as chairman; Wang from China Mobile as president; and Vincent Danno, director of wireline standards of the Innovation Technical and Marketing at Orange, as treasurer.

The other new members announced today include New H3C Technologies Co., Ltd. and Wind River, with the Open Networking Foundation joining as an associate member. Reliance Jio, Microsoft and Ciena also were announced this week as new members. (See Ciena Jumps on ONAP Bandwagon and MANO Marriage: ECOMP, OPEN-O Converge as ONAP.)

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading


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