The latest, "Dublin" release of the Open Networking Automation Platform (ONAP) addresses two major criticisms: that ONAP is difficult to install and configure, and that it needs a lot of hardware to run.
Dublin, released Tuesday, includes "blueprints," or reference configurations, for use cases including 5G; broadband; and cross-connect and cross-layer VPNs (CCVPN) that connect multiple service provider networks.
Heavy Reading analyst James Crawshaw is impressed, noting that in addition to endorsement by big operators and vendors, small service providers also give Dublin their blessing. For example, BringCom, a small service provider connecting cities in the US, the Middle East and Africa, provides an endorsement.
"They're able to get this huge elephant to work in the cloud in one virtual machine," Crawshaw says. "Given the criticism historically that ONAP is a monster that needs a supercomputer to run it and an army to install it, here you have 20 blokes running a scaled-down version. It's not as heavy a lift as it's made out to be."
ONAP is designed to provide automation needed for service providers to gain competitive advantage, Arpit Joshipura, general manager, Networking, Orchestration, Edge & IoT, for the Linux Foundation, tells Light Reading. "The key is getting ready and making sure you have a high degree of automation for secure and standardized global deployment across any cloud, any size and any location," he says. ONAP can run on the core network, on the edge, or in any size data center.
ONAP is an open source network automation platform for network operations from the physical layer to software to OSS/BSS. The first release, Amsterdam, in late 2017, saw about a third of carriers participating. That participation is now up to 70% of carriers. 5G is driving demand for automation and ONAP is filling that demand, Joshipura says.
Blueprints are a marquee feature for Dublin. Previously, ONAP had blueprints for 5G, vCPE and VoLTE. Dublin adds a new blueprint for broadband services, automating multi-gigabit residential connectivity over PON, with ONAP for orchestration and lifecycle management. Additionally, the new version expands the 5G blueprint to cover deployment, including enhanced Physical Network Function (PNF) support and configuration for improved network slicing, as well as performance management and fault management improvements, and enhanced optimization.
Also, ONAP previously offered blueprints for cross-connect and cross-layer VPN (CCVPN), and that's now expanded for dynamic addition of services and bandwidth on demand.
ONAP orchestration and lifecycle management now supports all major cloud platforms, including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, OpenStack and Kubernetes.
Additionally, Dublin improves scalability by reducing its footprint, supporting Alpine, a lightweight operating system optimized for containers, as well as memory and optimization improvements and database sharing.
In addition to the BringCom endorsement, ONAP carries the blessing of major carriers and vendors including Jio, AT&T, Ericsson, China Mobile, Vodafone, Huawei, Bell, Orange and Nokia. For example, AT&T is using ONAP to enhance consumer mobility services, while Orange is monitoring the quality of network management systems across several European countries.
Dublin adds partnerships with industry organizations including the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and GSMA to build an ecosystem, as well as incorporating ONAP into the OPNFV Verification Program (OPV) to reduce the time of compliance verification by 50%, Joshipura says.
Why this matters
Carriers are facing increasing demands to bring services online faster and configure those services more quickly. The proliferation of IoT devices, edge, and 5G, will only increase those demands. But automation isn't a competitive advantage -- it's table stakes for carriers looking to get ahead of the competition. ONAP provides a platform to enable carriers to implement automation relatively easily, and in a standardized fashion across multiple vendor implementations to minimize the risk of vendor lock-in. Carriers can then concentrate on providing unique value.
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— Mitch Wagner Executive Editor, Light Reading