Vodafone Group joins ONAP, ready to drive initiative

As promised, carrier membership in the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) Project is growing, with Vodafone Group being the latest operator to join as a Platinum member. The announcement was made at the opening of the Open Source Summit North America happening in Los Angeles this week.

Vodafone happens to be one of the world’s largest service providers, with operations in 26 countries. It joins AT&T, Amdocs, Bell, China Mobile, China Telecom, Cisco, Ericsson, GigaSpaces, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Jio, Nokia, Orange, Tech Mahindra, VMware and ZTE as platinum-level members.

Although it wasn’t part of the initial group of operators that drafted the NFV white paper (PDF) in 2012, Vodafone has been an early mover in the telecom industry to embrace virtualization and cloud technologies. The operator can use its scale and experience to help drive the ONAP initiative from design through to practical implementation across the industry.

ONAP’s mission is to deliver a neutral automation platform for network, infrastructure and services across service providers, cloud providers and enterprises eager to provide on-demand services profitably and competitively while leveraging existing investments. ONAP, a Linux Foundation project, emerged when AT&T contributed its ECOMP, which was combined with the Open Orchestrator Project (Open-O) backed by Chinese operators.  

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Vodafone’s participation means the ONAP community now represents 55% of global subscribers.

Arpit Joshipura, general manager, networking, at the Linux Foundation, said Vodafone’s participation will help shape the future of network automation. The whole push is to get the time down from weeks and months to minutes in terms of offering new services before 5G and IoT hits, and to do that requires automation.

The challenge for all operators, he said, is to find an efficient way of delivering services with full closed-loop automation so they can quickly scale up and down. All carriers understand that this is a common problem and if one entity has solved it, there is no harm in following because that’s not what differentiates carriers. What differentiates them are the services on top and things like pricing plans, cell coverage, marketing and reach.

“A lot of carriers are supporting this,” he said. “They are solving the problem cooperatively to get to the actual revenue-generating service quickly before 5G hits.”

At the end of July, the Linux Foundation announced that ONAP had doubled its roster of members just six months after launching; it now has nearly 1,000 developers and 30 projects underway. Comcast and Samsung were among the latest members to join this past summer.

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Joshipura said from a technical perspective, the community is making good progress with the first release, Amsterdam, due later this year. Amsterdam will be the first ONAP release to integrate the original Open-O and ECOMP code bases into a common orchestration platform. 

There already have been two technical face-to-face meetings among the stakeholders with a third planned; the first one was hosted by AT&T. The next technical face-to-face meeting will be in Paris, France, from Sept. 25-27.