ONAP reaches to the sky with satellite deployment by SES Networks

ONAP is reaching for the skies via a satellite deployment by SES Networks in partnership with Microsoft Azure and Amdocs.

The partnership is significant given SES's satellite footprint and Amdocs' experience in developing LF Networking's Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP), as well as the global scale of Microsoft Azure cloud.

"We're working with Amdocs on this carrier class, ONAP standardized network so we can really automate our end-to end-network, orchestrate the delivery of network services, and orchestrate the delivery of virtual network functions to wherever our customers need them, whether they're in remote, hard to reach places, or whether they are on an aircraft or ships," said SES CEO JP Hemingway. "We're pretty excited by this."

SES has long harbored ambitions to use its satellites to stitch together services and connectivity in hard to reach places as well as creating new networking opportunities for service providers and other industries verticals.

"We've talked about taking satellite mainstream, about having it as a seamless integrated extension to the world's terrestrial telco networks and making ourselves sort of a global cloud connectivity platform," said Hemingway. "To do that you need standards, integration and automation. An end-to-end circuit requires orchestration across many pieces.

"What it's really doing is opening up our network platform by partnering with both Microsoft and Amdocs. We feel we're pioneering the first ONAP orchestration and automated service delivery platform over a satellite enabled network."

RELATED: To infinity and beyond: SES Networks preps SD-WAN service

The first virtual network function that will be available via SES's ONAP deployment and within Azure Marketplace is SD-WAN. SES is in the early stages of rolling out its SD-WAN service, which Hemingway said made it an easy choice to be the first VNF.

SES has 70 satellites with 55 of those being geostationary (GEO) layer satellites, and the rest being medium-earth orbit (MEO) satellites that are much closer to the earth. Both MEO and GEO satellites allow SES Networks to employ intelligent routing for services, which fits in with its SD-WAN offering. In addition to the satellites, SES Networks will also deliver its SD-WAN service over other terrestrial and wireless services.

The GEO satellites are located 36,000 kilometers away and have latency of about 600 milliseconds while the MEO satellites' orbit is 8,000 kilometers with latency of about 120 milliseconds round trip.

Other VNFs to follow will include virtual evolved packet core (vEPC) and virtual security appliances. Customers are already using SES's appliance-based SD-WAN service to load-balance services across fiber infrastructures and satellite infrastructures.

"We're working with Microsoft to build this marketplace of VNFs that are hosted in Azure, which really gives us access to not just one or two vendors, but whatever vendor preferences our end customers might have," Hemingway said. "So we're pretty excited about that aspect as well."

There are various elements to putting ONAP onto SES's satellites. In addition to the ONAP element, SES picked Amdocs for implementing network automation via network function virtualization (NFV) for network platforms in the cloud.

For its part, Amdocs announced a partnership with Microsoft last year, and the ONAP implementation with SES is the first deployment to leverage that partnership.

RELATED: ONAP checks into Dublin with fourth software release

"This is based on the Amdocs NFV Powered by ONAP platform, which is constantly being updated with elements from the latest ONAP release," said Oren Marmur, vice president and head of NFV at Amdocs, in an email to FierceTelecom. "For SES, we will be deploying a Dublin-based ONAP version, which is the latest ONAP release."

After collaborating on using ONAP on Azure, Amdocs announced on Monday that it was expanding its strategic agreement with Microsoft to help communications service providers automate, modernize and digitize their networks.