AT&T says ONAP Amsterdam release will solidify gaps, enhance vendor interoperability

AT&T is keen on taking advantage of ONAP’s new Amsterdam release, saying it will give the telco several new benefits to streamline service creation and delivery for its wireline and wireless customers.

Having previously developed the ECOMP platform, which it contributed to the OpenSource community to form ONAP, AT&T is keen on taking advantage of Amsterdam for its own network evolution to software.

AT&T Gilbert
Mazin Gilbert

“The benefits of Amsterdam for AT&T and all operators will happen over time,” said Mazin Gilbert, VP of AT&T Labs, in an interview with FierceTelecom.

RELATED: ONAP Amsterdam release furthers automated virtualization trend

ONAP recently introduced ONAP Amsterdam, focusing on a unified​ ​architecture​ ​for​ ​closed-loop​ ​network​ ​automation.

As a new service delivery lifecycle for traditional telco, cable and cloud providers, ONAP is uniting​ ​the majority​ ​of​ ​operators​ ​(end​ ​users)​ ​with​ ​the​ ​majority​ ​of​ ​vendors​ ​(integrators)​ ​in building​ ​a​ ​real​ ​service​ ​automation​ ​and​ ​orchestration​ ​platform.

​The Amsterdam​ ​release​ ​provides​ ​a​ ​unified​ ​architecture, ​which​ ​includes​ ​code from​ ​OpenECOMP​ ​and​ ​Open-O, ​​to​ ​provide​ ​design-time​ ​and​ ​run-time​ ​environments​ ​within​ ​a single, ​policy-driven​ ​service​ ​orchestration​ ​platform.

Multiple benefits

While Amsterdam is still new, AT&T sees three main advantages with the new release that it can incorporate into its own operations:

  1. Functions and features: Amsterdam has created functional and non-functional features that AT&T could not have done themselves.

    "There’s 1,400 contributors and 500-plus developers at ONAP and that’s clearly bigger than what we have at AT&T,” Gilbert said.
  2. Eliminating gaps: As AT&T moves forward with its plans to implement SDN and NFV into more parts of its network, Amsterdam can help the service provider improve and eliminate software gaps in its own development cycles. Some of these gaps could be simple things like how to install one function versus another function, for example.

    “We’re finding gaps and issues we could not have addressed otherwise,” Gilbert said. “This is largely because now it’s being tested by a larger community."
  3. Solidifying vendor relationships: Amsterdam will also enable AT&T to have a better relationship with its vendor suppliers, all of which are also transitioning their focus from hardware to software.

“If you’re a supplier and not part of ONAP and adopting the ONAP architecture, we’re probably not going to do much business with you,” Gilbert said. “We want to go from these virtual functions being snowflakes to virtual functions being Legos.

Gilbert added that “this will allow us to take different virtual functions from different vendors and plug them into the platform without additional work or additional development.”

Driving vendor interoperability

A key element of ONAP and the OpenSource software movement for AT&T is that it will drive its vendors to provide more open platforms. While he could not name any specific companies developing platforms, Gilbert said that most of its vendor partners are being cooperative with its software network vision.

“Many of the vendors we work with today and what we deploy in our network are really part of the ONAP Consortium,” Gilbert said.

For AT&T, the drive to virtualize its network marks a new approach to building out networks.

“This is a very different way of doing business,” Gilbert said.

The traditional approach for large service providers like AT&T is to work with the vendor to develop an architecture, design, drive requirements and the vendors bid based on those requirements and provide a hardware platform. After the platform has been tested and integrated, it is then deployed.

While this process has worked for decades, Gilbert says the challenge is making adjustment to hardware requires it and other providers to deploy and test another platform.

“Every time want a change to the box, and it could be small change, we get another box,” Gilbert said. “We have to test that box again and go through the same cycle, but what ONAP provides is a different way of doing business.”

Gilbert added that, instead, ONAP is enabling AT&T and its vendor partners to create more open solutions from which multiple providers can benefit.

“It’s not like A to B back to A, but rather A and B working together,” Gilbert said. “We’re both working together to create the solution and the foundation of the solution is open to everyone, which is what ONAP is, but each service provider and vendor gets to keep their secret sauce.”