Orange is preparing to put AT&T's network management and orchestration platform, ECOMP, through its paces at its operation in Poland, a senior executive from the giant French operator announced Thursday.
Talking at the SDN World Congress in The Hague, Jehanne Savi, executive leader of Orange's All-IP & On-Demand Networks Programs, said the operator will use its Orange Poland business to test AT&T's Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy platform. Orange had previously announced its intentions to test ECOMP having evaluated AT&T's code. (See Orange First to Test AT&T's ECOMP.)
And there's a very good reason Orange is checking out a next-gen management system from a fellow network operator -- the French operator, along with its peers, is finding the MANO (management and orchestration) sector increasingly tough to engage with and vendor offerings not yet mature enough. "We're concerned about open source initiative fragmentation… Especially in the MANO domain, which is so sensitive. It is a key component in delivering agility," noted Savi.
She added that partnerships, such as the one that Orange has struck with AT&T, are very important and that the "open source spirit" -- which AT&T has embraced by offering up ECOMP to the open source community -- is "very appropriate … it leads to faster innovation" and helps with interoperability efforts.
To speed up Orange's own developments, the operator is adopting a "test and learn" approach and is aiming to use its operations in 28 different countries to try out different use cases, with Poland getting the honor of the ECOMP trial. The AT&T platform is "very comprehensive, addressing the whole cycle from design to execution."
But Savi also noted that having an appropriate technology product to work with for its virtualization strategy is just the tip of the iceberg: What is hidden away, below the virtual water line, is the much larger and potentially dangerous transformation process that needs to happen around working processes, skills and corporate culture.
The collaboration with AT&T doesn't end with ECOMP, she added. The two Tier 1 operators are working together to develop standard APIs for a "digital platform" model, applicable to all network operators, that would enable the federation of SDN and NFV assets, a move that would ultimately enhance customer engagement and experience.
That sounds very similar to the collaboration that Colt has underway with an unnamed US Tier 1 operator (which Light Reading believes is AT&T). (See Colt Boasts Multi-Operator SDN Service Breakthrough.)
It's clear that AT&T and Orange have decided they can't wait for the rest of the market to keep up and are spearheading certain developments that, they believe, can accelerate broader virtualization efforts. That could be seen as something of a risky strategy as it could, arguably, alienate some of the very companies they'd like to get involved. What's needed now is for other operators to join in and make this look like an ensemble initiative and not a two-piece band.
— Ray Le Maistre, , Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading