A version of this article first appeared in Wireless Week on March 13, 2017
Last month, the Linux Foundation announced the fusion of its two flagship open networking projects. Open-O (launched a year ago at Mobile World Congress by China Mobile and Huawei) will join with open source ECOMP (Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy, led by AT&T) to form the ONAP (Open Network Automation Platform) project. Here’s why ONAP is a game changer not just for NFV, but also for the next iteration of hyperscale cloud.
NFV is Too Big to Go It Alone
The biggest “a-ha” moment in the ONAP announcement is the reality that NFV is such a major undertaking—technically and operationally—that even powerhouses like AT&T and China Mobile understand they can’t go it alone. Working together also means that open source is the collaboration platform for the future, as it’s the only way to drive standardization in fragmented industries.
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Users and Vendors, Working Together
A major lesson we learned from the OpenStack community is the importance of users—in this case, carriers—that are committed to deploying the technology hand in hand with vendors, all working together in the same community. It took OpenStack a while to reach maturity, and bringing the operational view into the community has really sped up the roadmap process. Put another way, when big consumers of the technology started working side by side with developers in the community, large strides toward operational maturity followed.
Standardization Comes to MANO
In 2016, as NFV was taking flight, a diversity of MANO (management and orchestration) initiatives was hindering the climb to altitude. Fragmentation from semi-competitive projects like OSM (Open Source MANO), OPEN-O, OpenBaton, and OPNFV (Open Platform for NFV) was a source of risk for carriers. With the formation of ONAP, one community now represents more than 30 percent of subscribers worldwide. This center of gravity will drive standardization toward ONAP.
Similar to the way that OpenStack forced a consolidation among open cloud initiatives (CloudStack and Eucalyptus), I expect the same thing to happen with other open source initiatives around NFV. ONAP will force consolidation, and smaller initiatives will see value in collaborating with a standard-setting project.
TOSCA (Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications) has been used in Open-O and will likely become the standard for ONAP as well, alongside the acceptance that TOSCA/YANG (Yet Another Next Generation) should be integrated as complementary technologies and not as competing standards. This may become the biggest step toward a common modeling language.
Simplified VNF Onboarding
VNF onboarding remains a top priority for our Cloudify open source project, and it’s a major reason Gigaspaces was founding member of ONAP. No platform is ever complete without a thriving marketplace of cloud-native applications that can easily be onboarded to the orchestration platform. Without an ecosystem and marketplace, such initiatives will struggle for relevancy.
Why We Joined ONAP
The Cloudify open source project was born as an open source project and has been an active member in several open initiatives, including OpenStack, Open-O, the Linux and Apache Foundations, OASIS TOSCA and ETSI. Open support for open communities is a core part of the project’s DNA.
The project also had the good fortune to establish mutually beneficial partner relationships with many of the other ONAP founders, and we’ve worked closely with them on common data modeling around TOSCA, mapping the integration of TOSCA/YANG and VNF on-boarding—all core aspects to defragmenting the NFV industry.
ONAP: It’s the Code, Stupid
NFV standardization simply has to be driven from the code. Having an open community with companies focused on innovating—churning out code together—and taking these practices back to the standard bodies like TOSCA and ETSI/NFV to build a unified NFV model and architecture is the means we’ll use to drive NFV adoption and network innovation, to the benefit of everyone who uses global networks to solve problems and drive commerce.
Join us at the Open Networking Summit!
The Cloudify team will be on the ground at the summit talking about NFV orchestration, ONAP, VNF onboarding, and Cloud-Native VNFs. We will also be holding a meetup introducing ONAP as well as a panel including Ed Warnicke (Cisco), Chris Donley (Huawei), and Amir Levy (Cloudify). You can register here for the event taking place April 4th at 6pm at a venue near the conference.