AT&T Wields Disproportionate Influence in ONAP, But Everyone’s OK With It

The Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) open source group is presumably putting the finishing touches on its first code release — Amsterdam. The group has said it will release Amsterdam before the end of the year. The inaugural release will integrate the original Open-O and ECOMP code bases into a common orchestration platform.

We wondered how the integration was going and, specifically, whether AT&T was working collaboratively within the project.

AT&T is a major force within ONAP. It created and contributed about eight million lines of code from its ECOMP framework. And AT&T executives play a leading role in the Linux Foundation’s ONAP project.

Chris Rice, SVP of AT&T Labs, is chair of ONAP’s governing board. And Mazin Gilbert, VP of advanced technology at AT&T Labs, is the chair of ONAP’s technical steering committee.

In addition, AT&T worked closely with Amdocs on its ECOMP project. And now Amdocs, by extension, is also playing a leading role in ONAP. Alla Goldner, Amdocs’ director of technology, strategy, and standardization, is on the ONAP technical steering committee. Goldner has also set up a similar technical steering committee within Amdocs. Goldner said Amdocs’ participation varies within ONAP, but she added, “We really monitor pretty much everything.”

Arpit Joshipura, general manager of networking and orchestration, with the Linux Foundation, likes to cite the fact that of the 18 platinum members of ONAP, seven are operators. And ONAP says that its operator members account for 55 percent of the world’s telecommunications subscribers.

But AT&T, for all its influence within ONAP, is not the largest operator participating in the project. China Mobile is the world’s largest mobile phone service provider. And Vodafone is ranked second behind China Mobile in subscribers.

However, according to ONAP’s analytics page as of today, AT&T’s commits account for 40.64 percent. Huawei follows at 22.27 percent; ZTE ranks third at 16.9 percent; and Amdocs ranks fourth at 6.71 percent.

Meanwhile, China Mobile’s commits only account for 1.55 percent, and neither China Telecom nor Vodafone are separately listed on ONAP’s analytics.

While it may appear that AT&T wields more influence in ONAP than is justified by its size in proportion to other members, no one seems to be complaining about AT&T.

Amir Levy, director of technical market development, the CTO office at Cloudify, said AT&T at first may have been a little heavy-handed. But he said, “Every community has its push and pull. But how this community is behaving in terms of openness and the ability to accept that there are many facets to any requirement, I definitely think AT&T is a really good open source citizen.”

And a lot of people in ONAP are grateful to have a company leading the charge.

Marc Cohn, the former VP of network strategy at the Linux Foundation, said harmonization is critical to converge open source groups that are working on software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV). “The recognition by many industry leaders is that we can’t just spawn independent projects and expect end users will know how to capitalize on them,” said Cohn. “ONAP is broad enough to coalesce the elusive SDN/NFV stack sought by operators around the globe.”

ONAP has hosted three meetings for its members to engage face-to-face and work on the project. One was hosted by AT&T, one by China Mobile, and one was hosted by Nokia in Paris. Although the Amsterdam release has not yet been issued, the group is already making plans for its second release — named Beijing — which it plans to issue in Spring 2018.