TM Forum recently announced it has signed up 11 new companies, including four service providers, for its Open Digital Architecture Manifesto. On the vendor side, Amdocs, Netracker, Nokia and Oracle have now adopted the collaboratively developed Open Digital Architecture (ODA), while BT, Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica and Telenor are among the new signatories.
According to a recent TM Forum report “Time to Kill the RFP?,” communication service providers spend about $90 billion each year on IT. In addition to that amount, they spend approximately $1 billion per year on the process of selecting and buying software. In order to reduce those costs, TM Forum has been developing a stable of Open APIs and pushing the development of ODA, which go hand in hand.
TM Forum has long been the industry champion for industry Open APIs that can be used by service providers, vendors and system integrators to speed up the cycles of development. As part of a second phase, ODA provides the foundation for service providers to cut costs while reducing the time-to-market for new services.
"The whole idea with the Open Digital Architecture was to try and get to this concept of the loosely coupled set of components that exposed their (service provider) business capabilities through Open APIs and eventually get to the position where we could offer plug and play components by lowering the friction, lowering the integration tax for connecting things together by the Open APIs," said TM Forum CTO George Glass. "We're also working with our members to define a standard set of components that would be self-describing in terms of the assets that we produce. Increasingly, we're trying to make sure that they're machine-readable.
"When we define a component, and the metadata associated with the component, I not only want to describe the core function of the component, but also its management operations and it's notification reporting capability. It's security aspects and also its environmental requirements or dependency so I can automatically deploy it. I can automatically discover it. We've been developing that architecture for a number of years."
By using the Open APIs as the glue of ICT solutions, ODA will help push the development of the 5G-industry chain and ecosystem. Glass said the additions of the four service providers gives TM Forum a solid presence across Europe. So far, TM Forum hasn't announced any North American service providers that have signed on to ODA, but Glass noted that AT&T has previously signed up for the Open API manifesto, which now has 60 members that are committed to publishing and consuming those Open APIs. Typically, service providers first sign the Open API Manifesto before doing the same for the ODA Manifesto, according to Glass.
As a collaborative organization, Glass said the addition of the four vendors was critical to the development of ODA. Solidifying an approach to software development creates a market for standardized components and enables service providers to invest in IT for innovation and not just maintenance.
TM Forum is moving the industry beyond legacy OSS/BSS to cloud-native software components, and replacing traditional IT infrastructures with ODA's standardized plug-and-play components, data model and Open APIs.
At TM Forum's Digital Transformation World conference in Nice, France last year, Glass said Vodafone and Orange, along with other participants, demonstrated a proof-of-concept for working demonstrations of software. TM Forum is in the process of evaluating how to best build a software marketplace.
"We haven't been specific yet, because we're trying to work out how to do this," Glass said. "Do I actually put a software marketplace inside an organization where all of my approved software that my designers can use resides there? So that's exposed via APIs and includes a series of services and microservices that are runtime discoverable, and you can incorporate those into your solutions.
"Then ultimately, moving to the position where that marketplace could be external to an organization and effectively members or participants in the marketplace could buy and sell and trade components in the marketplace, but making sure that they are compliant with the ODA and the Open APIs. If I download a product catalog or download a pricing capability or a product ordering capability, I then can plug it into my architecture. That again, makes for a discoverable place to actually find and test and then run components from within your architecture."
TM Forum has collaborated extensively with other open source groups and standard development bodies such as ONAP and MEF. Glass said TM Forum is hoping to have a big announcement with MEF next month in regards to being able to carry both Ethernet and SD-WAN payloads in the Open APIs in an industry standard and open fashion.
Along with Chunghwa Telecom, Vidéotron and Globetom, 30 organizations are now committed to the Open Digital Architecture’s standardized plug-and-play components, data model and Open APIs.
"The idea that we've got with the Open Digital Architecture is to actually have the concept of conformance test kits so that you can verify that your components that you're building are actually compliant with the ODA," Glass said. "That's how you get your true plug and play compatibility."