The emergence of open source platforms for virtualized networks is an important trend in carrier deployments, but it does not necessarily make their digital programmes easier to implement. Operators like BT have said it is far more expensive to deploy open systems because of the increased need for skills – inhouse or consultants – to address the complexity, fragmentation, and sometimes immaturity of the code.
This presents a clear opportunity for software companies which can shield operators from these complexities and provide turnkey solutions in crucial areas like virtual network MANO (management and orchestration), based on open foundations but with the various elements pre-packaged, tested and customized for the operator’s requirements.
The idea of MANO as-a-service is becoming attractive, then. Amdocs has been an early mover – having helped AT&T develop its inhouse ECOMP solution into an open source offering, now the basis of the Open Network Automation Protocol (ONAP), it aims to make revenues from building ONAP solutions that will reduce cost and time to market for other telcos.
Accenture is the latest to join the race, announcing a series of services which will help operators transition to programmable network architectures and virtualization. The company has been working closely with the Linux Foundation’s LF Networking initiative – which includes ONAP – and has recently upgraded its membership to Gold level, reflecting the strategic importance of this technology. It now aims to build an as-a-service offering, starting with ONAP. It says its solution will include:
- a hardened ONAP community release
- a digital customer portal
- multivendor VNF test and certification portal and platform
- CI/CD automation cartridges for ONAP components
- service assurance and resource management for NFV infrastructure and virtual network functions (VNFs)
- ONAP integration packs for leading SD-WAN vendors
- A vendor-neutral platform framework for faster build and deployment of VNFs as cloud-native applications.
“While progress is being made in the shift from a hardware- to a software-based network, there is still a need to accelerate the transformation, and as a Gold member of LF Networking, we can provide a solution that will benefit the ONAP community,” said Amol Phadke, Accenture’s head of network strategy and services. “ONAP enables the industry to evolve more rapidly toward programmable network platform architecture.”