Canadian communications provider Bell is the first organization to deploy an open source version of the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) in a production environment.
Joshipura said Bell is using the platform to automate its data center tenant network provisioning. The carrier is also using the ONAP operations manager to support deployments, reduce its operational footprint, and enable continuous delivery.
“This significant development sends a clear message to the industry that ONAP is ready and usable and that carriers don’t need to implement all ONAP components from day one to start production,” Joshipura wrote.
The ONAP community last month released its first open source platform under the Amsterdam banner. The launch came nine months after AT&T and the Linux Foundation merged their respective open source projects to form ONAP.
Joshipura described Amsterdam as being “modular,” meaning “the platform can be taken as is — a full set of integrated components — or as module components where the community can build projects out of it.”
ONAP claims around 57 members, with more than 55 percent of global, mobile subscribers represented by member carriers. Platinum members include AT&T, China Mobile, China Telecom, Cisco, Ericsson, Orange, IBM, VMware, Vodafone, and Bell.
At the time of the Amsterdam release, Joshipura said that a handful of major service providers were using pieces of Amsterdam code or were planning deployments.
Bell was one of the early partners on AT&T’s ECOMP, signing up to test the platform in late 2016. Initial testing was around creating and managing software-defined networks (SDN).
“Bell has been engaged in the ONAP journey from day one and committed to get it to production to demonstrate its value,” said Tamer Shenouda, director of network transformation for Bell, in statement within Joshipura’s blog post. “This demonstration will encourage other partners to take a similar incremental approach in delivery and operations of the platform, and we look forward to other telecoms launching ONAP to production.”
Despite the launch milestone, some are concerned with ONAP complexity.
Pravin Mirchandani, the CMO of France-based telecom vendor OneAccess Networks, said in a blog post 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.”
SD-WAN, Containers Next
ONAP’s second release, dubbed Beijing, will be released next year. It will include “S3P” (scale, stability, security, and performance) improvements, along with 5G features, and others geared toward enterprises.
“The focus is on getting SD-WAN type cases in the next release but also packaging the platform for enterprise data centers,” Joshipura said in an email. “Basically, if you replace VNF [virtual network functions] with workloads (and we have seen interest already, e.g. running Microsoft Exchange on ONAP), then you get a fully automated and a closed loop control platform for data center. Note that ONAP is already implemented in Docker containers, and there is a project to include Kubernetes as well that helps with enterprise data centers.”