Today at the Open Networking Summit (ONS), AT&T revealed the software that’s behind its SDN work, and John Donovan, chief strategy officer, noted that the carrier might share this code on an open source basis.
Whether that actually happens will depend on what AT&T hears from the community, Donovan said. “We need to know that you’re willing to collaborate with us, to contribute your time and code to this.”
And AT&T wants the answers in a very non-carrier timeframe: “Weeks, not years, so don’t wait,” he said.
The bottom line is that AT&T thinks it’s got something that could help the SDN community — and it wouldn’t mind some help in polishing up its Ecomp, either. (An overview of that software is available in a white paper posted today.)
Ecomp stands for enhanced control, orchestration, management, and policy. It is in service in AT&T’s network today. “It’s the foundation for everything we’re doing,” Donovan said.
Donovan described Ecomp as a cloud services and infrastructure delivery platform. Really, it’s the combination of eight software subsystems for programming the network. Among other things, it covers some of the functions associated with OSS — assurance, performance management, fault management, and the like.
For further reading, see SDxCentral’s Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) Market Overview
Another way to think of it is that Ecomp is a branded version of lifecycle services orchestration (LSO), being championed by the MEF. So said Nan Chen, president of the MEF, in a conversation after Donovan’s talk.
LSO is still relatively new, though. When AT&T started work on Ecomp, it had no playbook to draw from, so Ecomp became an in-house project — “the most sophisticated software project AT&T has ever undertaken,” Donovan noted.
But it wasn’t the longest software project ever, thanks to the software expertise AT&T has amassed.
“Historically, a big software project at AT&T could take tens of millions of lines of code, thousands of people, and could sometimes take years or a decade to mature,” Donovan said. Ecomp took 8 million lines of code, 300 developers, and a year and a half.
The similarity to LSO doesn’t seem lost on AT&T. Chen says the carrier has been active in LSO discussions, trying to help formulate the concept of standardized interfaces between carrier networks.
If it works, it would be a way for AT&T to offer Network on Demand — the SDN-based service it’s been touting — across other providers’ networks. That idea is similar to the MEF’s original charter of helping carriers deliver Ethernet services across one another’s networks.