AT&T’s Rice: We positioned ECOMP to be vendor, virtual network function agnostic

AT&T is hoping to make ECOMP the telecom industry's standard automation platform for managing virtual network functions and other software-centric network capabilities. Image: AT&T

As AT&T looks to attract more partners in the open source community that want to use its Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy (ECOMP) platform, the focus is on being vendor and service provider agnostic.

The service provider hopes to launch the ECOMP virtualization platform into the open source community during the first quarter of 2017. As part of that effort, AT&T announced that it is open sourcing ECOMP to Linux Foundation

Its goal is to make ECOMP the telecom industry's standard automation platform for managing virtual network functions and other software-centric network capabilities.

Chris Rice, SVP of Domain 2.0 architecture and design at AT&T Labs, told FierceTelecom that since the service provider released the ECOMP white paper and invitation to the broader telecom and IT industries, interest has been strong.

RELATED: AT&T confirms Bell Canada is trialing software-based ECOMP platform

“When we announced ECOMP asking companies whether they wanted to be part of the community, we had a lot of different people reach out to us,” Rice said. “This roughly fell into the service provider camp, integrator and telecom equipment manufacturing camps that came to talk to us about it.”

Broad use cases

ECOMP may be a new concept, but AT&T sees the platform as being applicable to many use cases.

While service providers have responded favorably to ECOMP as the basis to develop new services like their own network on demand services for business customers, Rice said it has to educate new partners on how it can apply the platform to any part of their business.

Being a broad platform, ECOMP can perform various functions, including orchestration, data collection, policy and application control.

“When you show them a use case for network on demand, they say this is for enterprise services,” Rice said. “We have to tell them it is built to be general and vendor and VNF agnostic.”  

Rice added that ECOMP can accommodate any physical and virtual network environment.

“We can do a wide range of use cases so we have done things in the wireless space, we have done things in the on-demand space, and done things in the core network area like some of the work the team did with Open ROADM,” Rice said. “It is meant to be very general in the way it attacks this problem.”  

One application where AT&T can apply ECOMP in a physical environment is its Open ROADM project for its optical network. With the Open ROADM project, AT&T is looking to accomplish two main goals: software control of ROADMs and open hardware.

By implementing software control of the ROADMs AT&T has in the field, the devices will be able to automatically detect and adjust bandwidth. As a result, the ROADMs move traffic to different lanes as needed.

In driving open hardware for ROADMs, AT&T and other members of the Open ROADM group can publish open standards for ROADMs. This will drive open and interoperable hardware to accelerate optical network innovations.

Service provider, integrator interest ramps

Now that it has named Bell Canada and Orange as two service providers that will trial ECOMP, it’s clear that interest is growing.

While he could not reveal other service providers that are interested in using ECOMP, Rice said that it is in discussions with multiple service providers.  

“Think of what you have seen so far as the tip of the iceberg,” Rice said. “One of the reasons we did this with the Linux Foundation is they have a history of helping harmonize the industry around different areas.”

Rice said that while service providers are a key focus, the telco is also working actively with systems integrators such as Amdocs.

“We’re most active with the service providers, but we have also had a number of discussions with integrators,” Rice said. “In fact, we have worked jointly for over the past 10-11 months with Amdocs because we knew if we were going to open source it we needed to have somebody who was credible in that area who would have experience with that platform.”