Why open source is the backbone enabling 5G for telcos

Telecoms.com periodically invites third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Alla Goldner looks at ONAP and its contribution to virtualization and preparing the way for 5G for telcos.

5G is a technology revolution – paving the way for new revenue streams, partnerships and innovative business models. More than a single technology, 5G is about the integration of an entire ecosystem of technologies. Indeed, a recent Amdocs survey found that nearly 80% of European communications service providers (CSPs) expect the introduction of 5G to expand revenue opportunities with enterprise customers. It also found that 34% of operators plan to offer 5G services commercially to this sector by the end of 2019, a figure that will more than double to 84% by the end of 2020.

As with every revolution, to extract its full potential value, it will require a set of enablers or tools to connect the new technology with the telco network. For CSPs in particular, the need for new and enhanced network management system is an established fact, with more than half of European operators saying they would need to enhance their service orchestration capabilities. But, they want to do this in a flexible, agile and open manner, and not be burdened with constraints and limitations of traditional tools approaches.

ONAP: the de-facto automation platform

This is where ONAP (Open Network Automation Platform) enters the picture. Developed by a community of open source network evangelists from across the industry, it has become the de-facto automation platform for carrier grade service provider networks. Since its inception in February 2017, the community has expanded beyond the pure technical realm to include collaboration with other open source projects such as OPNFV, CNCF, and PNDA, as well as standards communities such as ETSI, MEF, 3GPP and TM Forum. We also anticipate collaboration with the Acumos Project to feed ONAP analytics with AI/ML data and parameters. Such collaboration is essential when it comes to delivering revolutionary use cases, such as 5G and edge automation, as its implementation requires alignment with evolving industry standards.

ONAP and 5G

CSPs consider 5G to be more than just a radio and core network overhaul, but rather a significant architecture and network transformation. And ONAP has a key role to play in this change. As an orchestration platform, ONAP enables the instantiation, lifecycle management and assurance of 5G network services. As part of the roadmap, ONAP will eventually have the ability to implement resource management and orchestration of 5G physical network functions (PNFs) and virtual network functions (VNFs). It will also have the ability to provide definition and implementation of closed-loop automation for live deployments.

The 5G blueprint is a multi-release effort, with Casablanca, ONAP’s latest release, introducing some key capabilities around PNF integration and network optimization. Given that the operators involved with ONAP represent more than 60% of mobile subscribers and the fact that they are directly able to influence the roadmap, this paves the way for ONAP, over time, to become a compelling management and orchestration platform for 5G use cases, including hybrid VNF/PNF support.

Another capability in high-demand is support for 5G network slicing, which is aggregated from access network (RAN), transport and 5G core network slice subnet services. These, in turn are composed of a combination of other services, virtual network functions (VNFs) and physical network functions (PNFs). To support this, ONAP is working on supporting the ability to model complex network services, as part of the upcoming Dublin release.

To summarize the above, 5G and ONAP are together two critical pieces of the same puzzle:

  • ONAP is the defacto standard for end-to-end network management systems, a crucial enabler of 5G
  • ONAP enables support of existing and future networking use cases, and provides a comprehensive solution to enable network slicing as a key embedded capability of 5G
  • By leveraging a distributed and virtualized architecture, ONAP is active in the development of network management enhancements and distributed analytics capabilities, which are required for edge automation – a 5G technology enabler

The importance of vendor involvement: Amdocs case study

Amdocs has been involved in ONAP since its genesis as ECOMP (Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy), the orchestration and network management platform developed at AT&T. Today, Amdocs is one of the top vendors participating in ONAP developments, and has supported proven deployments with leading service providers.

Amdocs supports both platform enhancements and use case development activities including:

  • SDC (Service Design and Creation)
  • A&AI (Active and Available Inventory)
  • Logging and OOM (ONAP Operations Manager) projects
  • Modeling and orchestration of complex 5G services, such as network slicing

Amdocs’ and other vendors participation in ONAP enables the ecosystem to benefit through a best-in-class NFV orchestration platform, supporting the full lifecycle of support of 5G services in an open, multi-vendor environment – from service ideation, modeling, through its instantiation, commission, modification, automatic closed-loop operations, analytics and finally, decommissioning.

The result is a win-win for CSPs, Amdocs, other vendors, as well as the ONAP community as a whole.

The benefits of collaboration for CSPs are that it provides them comprehensive monetization capabilities that enable them to capture every 5G revenue opportunity. The benefit for vendors such as Amdocs is to further their knowledge of best practices, which then flow back to the ONAP community.

 

About the author: Since ONAP’s inception, Alla Goldner has been a member of the ONAP Technical Steering Committee (TSC) and Use Case subcommittee chair. She also leads all ONAP activities at Amdocs.

Alla Golder is on the advisory board of Network Virtualization & SDN Europe. Find out what’s on the agenda and why you should be in Berlin this May

ONAP sparks up its first release – Amsterdam

The Open Network Automation Platform has served up its first release, which is designed to to offer a unified architecture for network automation.

Such is the mind-boggling complexity of virtualizing and automating networks that open source collaboration is widely considered to be the most effective way of doing so in an interoperable way. ONAP claims this is the first open source project to unite the majority of operators with the majority of vendors in building an automation and orchestration platform. Apparently ONAP’s members account for 55% of the world’s mobile subscribers.

“Amsterdam represents significant progress for both the ONAP community and the greater open source networking ecosystem at large,” said Arpit Joshipura, GM of Networking and Orchestration at The Linux Foundation, which runs ONAP. “By bringing together member resources, Amsterdam is the first step toward realization of a globally shared architecture and implementation for network automation, based on open source and open standards.”

The two specific use-cases covered by Amsterdam are VoLTE – specifically virtualizing the core network to allow the management of a VoLTE service – and residential vCPE – allwing CSPs to add new services quickly and easily. As you might have guessed, this starts a sequence of capital city release names in alphabetical order. The next one will be called Beijing and is scheduled for the summer of 2018, which may coincide with 3GPP release 15 for 5G.

In its thorough analysis of the release, Light Reading is cautiously positive about the release, noting that ONAP seems to be gathering the kind of critical mass of contributors that will be vital for it to be an industry-wide platform, although AT&T seems to be doing much of the heavy lifting. Here’s a vid.