AT&T made kind of a big deal in July about working with the Linux Foundation to create an open source group around its Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management, and Policy (ECOMP) platform. But the Linux Foundation has not yet announced ECOMP as an official project.
Perhaps there’s a snag due to the fact that ECOMP includes software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) management and network orchestration (MANO) code. And the Linux Foundation already hosts Open-O, which also works on MANO.
So how will AT&T deal with this first hurdle? The 130-year-old carrier usually does things its own way, with a bevy of vendors fawning after it. But it says it wants to open source ECOMP, and that means working with a community. It’s yet to be seen if AT&T will somehow integrate Open-O’s code or proceed with its own flavor of MANO.
Also, both ECOMP and Open-O encompass more than MANO. So it gets complicated to consider how they might work together or in parallel. AT&T breaks ECOMP into eight software subsystems. And Open-O does orchestration not just for NFV, but also for SDN (SDN-O) and for global services (GS-O).
When asked about ECOMP, Marc Cohn, the Linux Foundation director for Open-O, stressed that ECOMP is not yet a Linux Foundation Project. “Linux is just advising AT&T, and that’s the fact,” he says. “When AT&T makes a decision it’s certainly going to affect Open-O. But no matter what they decide, Open-O is a standalone [group].”
The China Factor
ECOMP is homegrown code written for U.S.-based AT&T. Open-O’s premier members include China Mobile, China Telecom, Huawei, and ZTE. And China Mobile is the world’s largest mobile phone service provider. Together, China Mobile and China Telecom count over 1 billion subscribers. This dwarfs AT&T Mobility’s 131 million subscribers.
“When you look at the subscriber base at Open-O that’s the key,” says Cohn. China Telecom, which is the smaller of the two Chinese telcos in Open-O, is bigger than AT&T.
But even though its members include Chinese telcos, Cohn emphasizes that it’s a “global project.” Vendor members include Ericsson, Intel, Canonical, Gigaspaces, Infoblox, and Red Hat. And even China-based vendors such as Huawei and ZTE deliver contributions from around the world.
(As a side note: Gigaspaces is a premier member of Open-O, but its open source code, Cloudify, is also used in ECOMP.)
Open-O arranges all its formal meetings so that a member anywhere in the world can contribute on a reasonable timeframe. “We’re not just setting up the time to be convenient for Silicon Valley,” says Cohn. “We tend to be very sensitive to cultural differences. We write things down; put things on Wiki. We try to make some adjustments based on the nature of a global participant base.”
While AT&T figures out its next move with ECOMP, Open-O is plowing ahead. Since announcing the intent to form the project at Mobile World Congress in February, the group has agreed to a governance model and established its technical steering committee, its governing board, and its marketing committee. Its members elected Huawei’s Chris Donley as chair of the technical steering committee.
And the group is in the process of forming an end-user technical advisory board. “The initial organizers felt we needed to do some things differently such as involving operators directly up front in the process,” says Cohn.
Open-O also chose its initial target use case, which will be virtual CPE for both residential and enterprise scenarios. The group plans to issue a developer’s code release by the end of 2016. It will name its releases after objects in the solar system with the first release being named “Sun.”
In addition, Open-O is working with the Linux Foundation project OPNFV to integrate some Open-O code as one of its upstream projects. The development Wiki is a project called Opera. The code will not be integrated with OPNFV’s upcoming release, Colorado. Rather it is targeted for an OPNFV second quarter 2017 release, named Danube.
To date, Open-O counts about 100 developers and 13 members.