TM Forum launched its Open Digital Framework to support its core service provider members as they migrate their networks toward 5G standards.
The framework includes TM Forum’s Open Digital Architecture, open APIs, data and artificial intelligence (AI) standards, reference implementations, and reference materials tied to business processes. The organization describes the framework as being an “interactive, continuously evolving collection of tools, knowledge, and standards” to help operators in the migration of legacy systems to “modular, cloud-native IT components.”
“The combination of the patterns, tools, specifications, and advisory services of the Open Digital Framework make it the natural choice for network architects to understand the complexity and possibilities of managing 5G-enabled services,” explained George Glass, vice president of architecture and API collaboration at the TM Forum.
The framework also builds on TM Forum’s past work on 5G projects. “It started out as work around SDN, NFV, and the virtualization of the network,” Glass noted. “5G took the virtualization stage further where not only the infrastructure was virtualized, but the network services were virtualized, for example a 5G slice.”
He added that the TM Forum also had programs over the past three years through its Catalyst projects that looked at the “management and exploitation of 5G technology.” The Catalyst projects are proof-of-concept (PoC) projects that TM Forum members collaborate on to tackle specific issues facing the industry.
Open API Adoption
Speaking of Open APIs, TM Forum also announced that four new organizations have adopted its Open APIs and signed the corresponding Open API Manifesto. The new signees include AT&T, China Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, and Salesforce. They join organizations like China Mobile, Ericsson, Huawei, IBM, and Oracle that have already signed on to the initiative.
The Open API program gained initial traction in 2016, when nine operators officially adopted what were then 18 representational state transfer (REST)-based APIs.
The Open API program also ties into a growing desire from operators in opening up what has traditionally been a closed systems environment. Ideally, the use of Open APIs in all business and operational systems would allow an operator to mix-and-match vendor platforms to help drive cost savings and better performing systems.
TM Forum claims more than 50 REST-based Open APIs are being used by more than 7,000 software developers at more than 1,200 companies.
Organizations signing onto the program commit to incorporating the Open APIs into their products or requiring them as part of their RFP process. They are also asked to participate in the broader TM Forum Collaboration program.