AT&T is putting big money behind its Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP), today committing up to $200 million to a venture capital fund that will invest in technologies that run on ONAP.
AT&T will work with venture capital firm Coral Group — specifically Coral’s Communications Industry Platform (CIP) team — to identify and invest in start-up companies focused on connected services and platforms.
“We look forward to collaborating with Coral and other CIP members to find – and even create – startup companies to build disruptive technologies,” said Andre Fuetsch, CTO and president of AT&T Labs, in a statement. “This investment is part of our push to address the needs of global service providers.”
ONAP is an operating system for software-defined networks. It derived from an in-house platform developed by AT&T (ECOMP), which merged with an existing open source project (Open-O). ONAP is now an open source project hosted by the Linux Foundation. It has big service provider support with members including China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, and Orange.
AT&T, which uses ONAP to manage its own cloud network, wants to make it the standard for virtualized networks around the world.
Not everyone shares AT&T’s rosy outlook for ONAP, however.
Pravin Mirchandani, the CMO of OneAccess Networks, a telecom vendor based in France, said in a blog that both ONAP and the competing open source project Open Source MANO (OSM) are both “horrendously complex and quite frankly beyond the means of most operators to implement.”
Mirchandani pointed out that open source code only saves the cost of acquiring the software. However, service providers still have to figure out how to deploy and integrate it within their networks. “That’s why many operators, both large and small, are sitting on the sidelines waiting for a viable solution to present itself,” he wrote. “This might quite possibly be in the form of MANO-as-a-service.”