ONAP drops Casablanca software release while OPNFV advances VNF testing

LF Networking is blending new features in to its Open Networking Automation Platform (ONAP) and OPNFV projects in order to enable cross-stack deployments across new and existing use cases.

Today marked the third software release, which is called Casablanca for ONAP while OPNFV unveiled its Gambia release—which included more of a focus on cloud-native functions, testing and upstream project integration—early last month. Both ONAP and OPNFV are under the Linux Foundation's LF Networking umbrella that was designed to provide a platform for cross-project collaboration. 

RELATED: MEF, TM Forum pitch in on ONAP's Beijing software release

In addition to a burgeoning membership for ONAP, Telstra joined last month and Duetsche Telekom joined this past summer, Casablanca supports additional use cases such as 5G and cross-carrier VPN while OPNFV's Verification Project (OVP) resolving the issue of onboarding virtual network functions (VNFs).

The Linux Foundation's Arpit Joshipura, general manager, networking, said there were three main areas around today's Casablanca release.

"We are very pleased and excited that ONAP has become really diverse in terms of members and contributors," he said in an interview with FierceTelecom. "Commits have gone up, developers have gone up, organizations have gone up, and projects have gone up. All of the diversity really shows the health of an open-source project. Typically, a single-vendor project, while it might be great, is not typically long-lasting.

"The number of participating companies has significantly increased over the last three releases. That really shows the health of the project in terms of a growing community here that includes both end users as well as large vendors and small vendors."

Casablanca has 501 authors versus the 473 authors that took part in Beijing, which was the preceding software release to Casablanca.

"Number two, is the specific features for deployment that Casablanca has," Joshipura said. "Clearly, it's larger than Beijing release with lots of progress around deployability. Finally, the end users and commercial ecosystem that has come along, which is cross-release, cross-carriers, and controllers, is significant here."

AT&T Labs' Catherine Lefèvre, associate vice president, network cloud and infrastructure, who is also the technical steering committee chair for ONAP, said that while new features and use cases have been added to ONAP with Casablanca, there have been no major changes to the architecture from Beijing to Casablanca. One of the sore spots with ONAP's detractors was that it's too large and complex, but service providers don't need to take all of ONAP in one big bite.

"One of our focus areas was really to continue to consolidate the platform itself and to move to more modularity because some people will be interested in not to consuming it as a platform but consuming it only for one or some of the components," she said in an interview with FierceTelecom. "That's really a key message."

Feature-wise, Lefèvre said ONAP is being streamlined through the use of Kubernetes, and there's also integration work underway with Istio.

"We have some new features like deployment on multi-node, backup and restore," she said. "We have added two new dashboards. One is DCEA (Data Collection, Analytics, and Events) Design Studio, which is a subsystem that will allow you to define your control workflow, and the other one, the workflow designer, is to define your orchestration workflow.

"From a runtime perspective, we have increased the focus on the monitoring and analytics, and the service assurance area by integrating another open-source standard, PNDA. So this gives us more service assurance functionality with this initial integration with PNDA. We are also adding additional collectors in order to be ready to unload real time messages because with 5G we expect there will be more data to analyze so we are increasing the analytics capability."

From an orchestration perspective, Design Studio will facilitate the lifecycle management of the VNF. Casablanca has also introduced support for physical network functions in addition to the VNFs. Casablanca includes TOSCA for several use cases, including virtual customer premises equipment.

The cross-carrier VPN functionality is a cornerstone of Casablanca, according to Lefèvre. She used China Mobile and Vodafone as an example of how two carriers can orchestrate services with ONAP.

"China Mobile and Vodafone wanted to provide a high-speed, flexible and intelligent service for their customers and instant and flexible VPN services for their small and medium business companies," she said. "They decided to build a high-bandwidth and super high-speed optical transport network with Huawei. It means that we have the same instance of ONAP deployed within the Vodafone premises and within the China Mobile premises. Between the two premises, we have cross-connectivity between these two carriers. It's one of the biggest features because it demonstrates the partnership of these two carriers together, and it introduced a new concept in terms of an optical transport network."

ONAP has also worked with MEF and the TM Forum during the Beijing release. That work has included using TM Forum's APIs and MEFs Lifecycle Services Orchestration Interlude and Sonata APIs for cross-carrier or carrier-to-business orchestration. Joshipura said Casablanca took the relationship with the TM Forum and MEF to a deeper level.

Previously, ONAP provided its code to MEF, but now ONAP's code and MEF's standards are deeply aligned, according to Joshipura.

Casablanca has a blueprint in place to automate 5G networks when they start to pop up next year. Another area of focus for 5G will be to enable zero-touch orchestration and automation to radio area networks while providing a blueprint for network slicing, which are also scheduled for next year.

"We have the plug-and-play physical network function," Lefèvre said. "We have the software upgrade of the physical network function. We have also two use cases in the network optimization area. With a lot of traffic going on the 5G, we need to improve the speed or performance measurement of being able to endure the high volume of streaming."

Joshipura and Lefèvre provided descriptions of ONAP-based deployments and use cases by AT&T, Orange, China Mobile, China Telecom, Verizon and Turk Telecom, among others.

"Most of the features of Casablanca are absolutely critical in deployment," Joshipura said. "You can see you need upgrades. You need lifecycle management. You need backup and restore. You need audits, and you need service assurance, analytics, and monitoring. All of these just need to be finalized and productized, because that's kind of the operational aspects of ONAP."

ONAP's next software release, which is called Dublin, will be out this coming summer.

OPNFV's OVP program expands into VNF realm

OPNV launched its OPNFV Verification Program (OVP) last year as a way to test and verify the availability of commercial-based products of network virtualization functions infrastructure (NFVi.) Joshipura said OVP is broadening its reach next year to include testing and verification of VNF deployments as well as providing third-party lab support. To date, service providers have been frustrated with onboarding and prepping each vendor's VNF and have sought a way to standardize the process for both vendors and carriers.

"OVP was a compliance and verification program for NFVi and the bottom layers of the stack," Joshipura said. "What we have done is we have expanded that into the ONAP and VNF space. Now there's a single OVP program that the vendors and end users can quickly test and certify their VNFs so that you can quickly deploy them, and you don't need to worry about the specific nuances of each VNF."