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AT&T: OPNFV Can Bring Open Source Sanity

Carol Wilson
5/26/2016

AUSTIN -- The Big Communications Event -- It will be up to one open source group, the Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV), to provide a "fair playing field" to sort the multiple industry open source initiatives around orchestration, an AT&T executive said here Wednesday.

Toby Ford, assistant vice president of Cloud Technology, Strategy & Planning at AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), said in a BCE keynote that Open Platform for NFV Project Inc. will be the natural place for evaluating the work of efforts such as OPEN-Orchestrator Project (OPEN-O), Open Source MANO (OSM) and possibly AT&T's internally developed platform, ECOMP, which it may be releasing to open source.

"There is enormous interest in orchestration and covering the MANO part of ETSI's NFV," he said. That has spawned efforts such as those named above. "Somehow that has to be resolved and the fair playing field of OPNFV will be the place to do that."


Read more about NFV strategies and the challenges of orchestration in our NFV section here on Light Reading.

What OPNFV is doing is unique among open source groups because it isn't developing software code but is, instead, "creating a framework" which offers a software development lifecycle based on a clear set of use cases and solid documentation, Ford said.

And while OPNFV won't pick winners, he stressed, it will provide the place where different solutions can be evaluated and generate the information communications service providers will need to make their decisions.

AT&T is still talking with other network operators about ECOMP, which stands for Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy. Since March, when Chief Strategy Officer John Donovan told the Open Networking Summit that the carrier was willing to put the massive software development project into open source code, AT&T has been talking frequently with other operators about their interest.

In fact, Ford admitted, he has spoken more with other operators in the past year than in the entire rest of his AT&T career.

"We are deciding whether or not to open source our orchestration mechanisms -- the things we use to create extensibility and a software way of thinking," he said. ECOMP is a modular system of different components, built on what AT&T has learned in the past from its operations and support systems and what it is pulling in from today's more IT-focused technologies.

"We need to combine that all together into something new," Ford commented. "Of course in the process, you also have to throw something away. That will be a non-trivial challenge and it is a gradual process."

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

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