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ONAP Casablanca release targets cross-carrier deployment, 5G

ONAP's latest release, Casablanca, focuses on enhancing existing features within its architecture to better support cross-carrier site connectivity, deployment and 5G.

The Open Network Automation Platform has made available its third software release, Casablanca, which is focused on global deployment scenarios and 5G.

Architecturally, ONAP's Casablanca release doesn't differ significantly from the previous Beijing release. Instead, the software contains enhancements that better accommodate cross-carrier deployments and projects, according to Arpit Joshipura, general manager of networking at The Linux Foundation, based in San Francisco.

Some of the changes include improved lifecycle management for virtual network functions (VNFs) via ONAP's application controller, better logging for higher availability and audit capability, and support for physical network functions, he added.

While Casablanca may be prosaic, its feature upgrades are still necessary, Joshipura said. "They're what we need to get ONAP into production -- lifecycle management, runtime, dashboard, service assurance and more," he said.

ONAP Casablanca in use

One of the major drivers for ONAP Casablanca was improving ONAP interoperability among carriers, according to Catherine Lefèvre, associate vice president at AT&T and ONAP technical steering committee chair.

To that end, Casablanca upgraded ONAP support for external APIs -- from MEF or TM Forum, for example -- that lend themselves to cross-carrier deployments. As a result, two partnering carriers can establish global site connectivity and deploy the same ONAP instance at their respective locations, she said. Vodafone and China Mobile -- each active ONAP contributors -- currently use this model in their partnership to deliver high-speed services to their customers, she said.

Part of ONAP's versatility is its modularity, however, which allows ONAP users to pick and choose the most suitable use case. While Vodafone aggressively pursues the external API project and VNF onboarding and compliance, Verizon focuses on how to align ONAP and VNF orchestration with its software-defined networking architecture.

AT&T, an original ONAP contributor, now delivers about 25% to 29% of ONAP's code base, and it currently uses ONAP as the foundational platform underneath its FlexWare business services, Lefèvre said. AT&T is also heavily participating in ONAP's controller design studio project.

Meantime, system integrators and startups are beginning to offer commercial ONAP services, Joshipura said. Accenture provides ONAP as a service, with hardware and software support, while startups like Aarna Networks and Netsia now offer ONAP services and training. Ericsson, Fujitsu, Nokia and Huawei have also started integrating ONAP components into their products, he added.

VNF verification and compliance testing

Another key part of the ONAP Casablanca release focuses on VNF verification and compliance. Previously, ONAP incorporated VNF requirements and software developer kits (SDKs) as standardization tools, but they weren't integrated, automated or merged into a single program, Joshipura said.

This release was primarily about deployment, but we didn't want to wait for the next release to get some of the 5G readiness in there.
Arpit Joshipurageneral manager of networking, The Linux Foundation

ONAP's Casablanca release ties in VNF testing from a recent Open Platform for Network Functions Virtualization (OPNFV) release. OPNFV and ONAP are both involved in the LF Networking Fund, a Linux Foundation initiative that aims to promote cross-project collaboration. The umbrella program allows the two individual open source communities to work together on the same project and avoid overlap.

"This single program allows VNF onboarding to be simplified," he said. "Vendors can take their VNF and test it against the OVP [OPNFV Verified Program] and make sure they can deploy it right away."

End users, on the other hand, get the assurance that VNFs are certified and compliant with the ONAP architecture.

The VNF test suite involves a dovetail framework that instantiates, configures, tests and collects the results. Test tools include Functest and Yardstick, which is where ONAP's VNF SDK will reside, Joshipura said. The test suite also includes testing for virtual infrastructure management and NFV infrastructure.

Looking ahead to 5G

Finally, the ONAP Casablanca release paves the way for the platform to better support 5G. Many ONAP contributors are already heavily involved in 5G development, including Verizon, AT&T and Ericsson, Lefèvre said.

"They're facing different challenges in network optimization, network slicing, zero-touch provision, orchestration and automation in the radio access network," she said.

As such, ONAP Casablanca includes a 5G blueprint that addresses those issues with development on real-time analytics, edge automation, scaling, configuration and integration for physical network functions. The 5G blueprint is far from complete, but the ONAP community wanted to begin the process, Joshipura said.

"This release was primarily about deployment, but we didn't want to wait for the next release to get some of the 5G readiness in there," he said. "So, the team managed to put in the 5G blueprints, as well."

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