Doubts surround the first ONAP release

The first release of the open source ONAP code, largely based on AT&T’s inhouse development ECOMP, will be available on November 16, aiming to simplify management and orchestration (MANO) of virtualized telco networks.

However, though it is being supported by operators such as Orange and Bell Canada, it also has its critics, some of them backing its main rival, ETSI’s Open Source MANO (OSM). Telefonica has been a significant contributor to OSM, though it was recently reported to be close to joining ONAP too, which would be a valuable step towards avoiding fragmentation in this vital area of software.

ONAP’s critics claim the first release will not be usable in production networks and will lack that level of stability until its third or fourth version.

Arash Ashouriha, deputy CTO at Deutsche Telekom (not an ONAP member), told the recent SDN/NFV Congress in The Hague: “A big proportion of the industry has converged toward ONAP but there is still a long way to go because the full industry is not part of it and the first release is not fully usable.”

This is despite the fact that supporters such as Orange said they were supporting ONAP because so much of its code had already been used in anger within AT&T, giving it a level of real world credibility that was lacking in some open source platforms.

The first ONAP release, codenamed Amsterdam, will support three network functions or services – a virtual firewall (vFW), virtual CPE and a VoLTE service running on a virtual evolved packet core (vEPC).

Bell Canada stated: “As a member of ONAP, we look forward to working with our international partners to begin the implementation of Version 1 later this year. We also look forward to the integration of the ONAP Operations Manager expected in the spring.” That will support the deployment, management and operation of the ONAP platform and its component parts and could be part of Release 2, codenamed Beijing and scheduled for May 24.

Other ONAP members include the three Chinese telcos plus Hong Kong’s PCCW, India’s Reliance Jio, Orange, Vodafone UK and VEON of Russia.

One issue is the sheer volume of ONAP code – about 10m lines of seed code, covering about 30 projects with multiple vendors either within ECOMP or the China Mobile OPEN-O system, which is also part of the platform. Others cite the heavy influence of large vendors like Huawei and Amdocs – when a truly open, multivendor environment  is one of the key goals of virtualization for many operators. Another criticism is that ETSI OSM will provide a more collective, and more structured, platform based around a common information model, which will make it easier to mix and match code from different sources.

According to LightReading, ONAP members are losing hope of a multivendor framework. “I’ll see pigs fly out of one of my private parts before we all agree on a common data model,” David Hughes, VP of IP engineering for PCCW, told the paper’s recent OSS event, adding that it was “probably an exercise in futility in getting NFV vendors to come up with the same interfaces.”