The Bridgewater, New Jersey-based company iconectiv this week joined the Linux Foundation Networking Fund. iconectiv is perhaps most well-known as a Local Number Portability Administrator (LNPA). In this role the company handles the administrative work to enable people to port their phone numbers between different service providers. It operates as the LNPA for the majority of countries in the world. It was named as the LNPA for the United States in 2016, taking over the role from Neustar.
“We are by far the market leader [of LNPA] by subscriber count, or country count, or by operators served,” said Chris Drake, CTO of iconectiv.
But besides its work with phone number portability, iconectiv also creates unique codes for physical network devices. It’s been doing this for decades, as iconectiv’s corporate roots began at AT&T Labs. The work on creating these unique codes was handled by various corporate entities after the breakup for AT&T. Those entities included Bellcore and Telcordia. In 2014, Ericsson acquired all of the business units of Telcordia, with the exception of iconectiv. Today, Ericsson is the majority shareholder of iconectiv, but the company operates independently.
“We’ve encoded a lot of physical things over many years,” said Drake. “We have professional coders who create these codes. It is basically a directory of unique IDs that represent physical devices and reference data in a directory.”
But iconectiv also creates codes for virtual network functions (VNFs). Through its Common Language solution, the company has already created unique codes for more than 1,000 VNFs.
Asked why iconectiv wants to be in the Linux Foundation Networking Fund (LFN), Drake said, “The world’s moving to virtual functions. Keeping up with that, we have an initiative to manage the lifecycle and governance of virtual functions. The Linux Foundation is a big player there.”
Some ways that iconectiv manages the governance of physical and virtual functions is by providing metadata that validates the device or VNF to provide “an authentic third-party source of that truth,” said Drake.
The company is also involved with device and VNF licensing. It’s working with the ETSI NFV group on its efforts to bring standards to VNF licensing. “We are involved with that work at ETSI,” said Drake. “Standards bodies create a framework for how this should be managed. But they don’t talk about how you would apply a tool in a governance model and use it day-to-day.”
As far as its participation in the LFN, Drake added, “There’s a lot of momentum with ONAP. And recently the TM Forum announced that LFN had full access to their APIs. It’s important for us to understand how they’re solving the problem of a system of reference data.”