At the Open Networking Summit (ONS) a couple of weeks ago, the operator said it’s been working on a comprehensive virtualization platform, Ecomp, for a year and a half – and it tossed it out to existing open source groups to see if they’d like to join with it. John Donovan, AT&T chief strategy officer of technology and operations, asked the community to read its Ecomp white paper and provide feedback in “weeks, not years.”
As of the end of last week, nearly 3,800 people have gone to the Ecomp webpage, and about 45 percent have downloaded the white paper, according to Chris Rice, VP of advanced technologies and architecture at AT&T Labs, who adds, “We do hope this will be a rallying effort to synthesize some of these other efforts.”
AT&T makes the argument that it’s amassed “key learnings” from the 8 million lines of code currently comprising Ecomp, which is being used in its network for such things as its Network on Demand initiative.
AT&T says Ecomp is the brain of its SDN network. “There’s got to be a way for service providers to take the software for particular functions and place it into the network in a way that then connects to the other things via networking and storage, and to telemetry for right performance,” says Rice.
More technically, he says: “Ecomp is a layer of virtual network functions (VNFs) that perform services. Then there’s a cloud platform upon which those VNFs need to be networked in a particular way. The system that does that is Ecomp.”
AT&T says other open source groups working on virtualization code are too narrow in scope. Ecomp, on the other hand, is comprehensive, as anyone who’s looked at the white paper knows.
“From my perspective, I don’t think any of those communities have tremendous traction yet,” Rice says. “Very few are broad enough to do all these different areas, and very few have real working code.”
But is it really feasible for other open source groups such as the Open Network Operating Systems (ONOS), OPNFV, Open-O, or Open Source MANO (OSM), as examples, to just cease their separate existences and join with AT&T?
“It’s too early to tell,” says Rice. “We’re still waiting on feedback.”
He did speculate that AT&T might use some kind of nonprofit organization to host Ecomp if other groups want to join in.