The two companies had already announced they were collaborating on open source and standards work for SDN and network functions virtualization (NFV). But it’s significant that Orange is throwing in with ECOMP, because AT&T wants other service providers to participate in its project.
AT&T has committed to releasing ECOMP as open source software and has enlisted the advice of the Linux Foundation. Without other service providers joining in, it wouldn’t be much of an open source project.
Orange will begin experimenting with ECOMP in a lab environment to be followed by a field trial as part of its On-Demand Networks program. Orange also plans to help AT&T build the open source community around ECOMP.
ECOMP, which stands for Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management, and Policy, is the software platform AT&T created to power its new, more virtualized network. Chris Rice, senior vice president of Domain 2.0 architecture and design at AT&T, said in a recent interview with SDxCentral that ECOMP is necessary for a provider of AT&T’s scale.
“You need functions like service orchestration and control, application control, network control, policy, data collections, and analytics,” Rice said.
The carrier plans to buy virtual network functions (VNFs) from a variety of different suppliers.
“We’re building a VNF automation layer to do all those functions,” said Rice. “If you don’t, you bring together a hodgepodge of different supplier capabilities, and that doesn’t work as you start to roll out more services. What we’re trying to do is to build that VNF automation layer. It really was the missing link for SDN.”