As noted, in the early years of an open platform, there is considerable complexity in integrating unfamiliar products and vendors. Though the end goal is an automated, plug-and-play multivendor environment, it will take a long time to achieve that at a level that brings confidence for operators to deploy the new systems in their central networks.
For now, there is a major opportunity for systems integrators to pull together equipment and software from multiple suppliers, some of them small companies with limited integration and roll-out capabilities of their own; and to tune and optimize those systems to work optimally with common cloud infrastructure (that has been a major challenge for Rakuten and its integrators, Cisco and TecMahindra).
A major TechM competitor, Wipro, is eyeing the TIP opportunity and announced its intention to work with the group on 5G solutions for enterprise and operators.
Sanjay Bhartiya, VP of industrial and engineering services at Wipro, positioned the firm as a trusted implementation partner, saying: “Our Engineering NXT approach is the synthesis of our broad industry design experience for creating connected devices, software and data platforms to drive customer innovation at scale. Working within TIP, we will be able to deliver the next generation wireless solutions that will have the potential to revolutionize the wireless industry.”
Wipro plans to create a TIP-based blueprint for a 5G reference architecture as well as a 5G operational model, both aiming to reduce cost and time to market for open deployments.
Over time, such approaches will reduce the need for customized integration projects and make deployment more automated – that will threaten some traditional SI business, so it is important for them to pivot towards offering deployment frameworks and software, leveraging their proprietary expertise for more common blueprints that can broaden their addressable market.
Within that broad objective, the firm will work in four areas of TIP implementation:
- Continuous physical end-to-end integration and validation of TIP OpenRAN technologies
- Creation of an autonomous, open source, 5G-ready OSS/BSS platform that harnesses machine learning
- Work on a modular end-to-end cybersecurity model
- Work on a new optimized operations model, leveraging Wipro’s Holmes AI and Automation Platform
Wipro’s role will be to provide interoperability lab services and the end-to-end roll-out of 5G networks.
Many companies are converging on the SI opportunity:
Attilio Zani, TIP’s executive director, acknowledged the vital role of integrators in the early years of a new platform. “At TIP we recognize the important role that system integrators play in our ever-expanding ecosystem,” he said. “This type of collaboration is fundamental to TIP’s mission, and we welcome their efforts to move the industry forward.”
Other companies are converging on the integration opportunity, and the chance to establish their software frameworks as core to the emerging open systems. Examples include Radisys, which expanded its traditional protocol stack business by developing services and reference designs for the Open Networking Foundation’s CORD technology (it is now part of Indian operator Reliance Jio); as well as Amdocs.
Amdocs helped AT&T to create Open Networking Automation Protocol (ONAP) which has become a significant Linux Foundation open specification for management and orchestration of virtualized networks. This has formed the basis of an expansion of its familiar BSS business into services to support open implementations. The company now has its sights on TIP too, announcing that it will provide expanded integration and validation services within the TIP initiative.