With the addition of Verizon’s approximately 110 million mobile subscribers, ONAP now enables nearly 60 percent of the world’s mobile subs.
Srini Kalapala, Verizon’s VP of global technology and supplier strategy, said the company has been doing network virtualization for a while. Now, it will initially evaluate which parts of the ONAP open source software it can immediately use.
“We’re already on a path,” said Kalapala. “We’ll find the modules we can benefit from ONAP and plug them in. We haven’t finalized our three- to four-year strategy with ONAP.”
He said Verizon will be pouring over ONAP in the next couple of months to more clearly determine how to incorporate the open source code in its networks. Kalapala reports to Ed Chan, senior vice president and chief technology architect at Verizon. And Chan reports to Verizon CTO Hans Vestberg.
“We’ve been at [virtualization] on all the fronts,” said Kalapala. “What intrigued us about ONAP is a couple of things.” He said the company wants to be involved with all the innovation that’s taking place with network virtualization. And it also wants a standardized way for vendors’ products to interoperate with each other.
“We noticed that working with orchestrators — while we are getting the capabilities we need — vendors are stretched in multiple directions,” he said. “Side effects are both cost and slowness in the way the features are getting released; especially the slowness because vendors have to work with different standards.”
Verizon also wants to have its say in terms of how networks become virtualized. “Our goal is full-fledged automation,” said Kalapala. “When we saw that a lot of innovation needs to be done, we wanted to find the scale and share our thoughts.”
Considering that at least half the code from ONAP derived from ECOMP, which was a home-grown project of AT&T, it’s pretty amazing that Verizon has now decided to join the group. Radhika Venkatraman, senior vice president and CIO of network and technology at Verizon, in a 2017 interview with SDxCentral, said, “When AT&T built ECOMP, they used 400 people. I have 23 people on the orchestration team. We may add another dozen to that team.”
Verizon will evaluate ONAP’s potential across its underlying IP optical transport networks, its mobile networks, its enterprise networks, and its own telco cloud. “Every area of the network we are looking to modernize and virtualize,” said Kalapala.
Over the last couple of years, Verizon has announced bits and pieces of its network virtualization efforts. In April 2016, SDxCentral reported that Verizon had published an SDN-NFV Reference Architecture document. This architecture helped the company create a telco cloud across its own internal data center network.
Verizon is also on the path to virtualizing various functions on its core mobile network in preparation for 5G. Although exactly what it’s virtualizing hasn’t been spelled out.
In addition, the company created its Virtualized Network Services (VNS) platform in 2016. In November 2017, Verizon Enterprise Solutions rolled out a new pay-as-you-go pricing scheme on the VNS platform.
And, of course, Verizon was an early adopter of software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN). It started working with Viptela (now Cisco) in early 2016.
In terms of ONAP, the group recently released its initial code, dubbed Amsterdam. Arpit Joshipura, general manager of networking and orchestration with the Linux Foundation, said China Telecom has shared plans to use ONAP for virtual customer premises equipment (vCPE) and VoLTE use cases. And Bell Canada is already using the code in its production networks.
ONAP plans to issue its next release, Beijing, in summer 2018. Beijing will expand the platform to enable support for 5G, cloud, enterprise, and IoT services.