A Look Back: The Road to putting ECOMP into Open Source

January 18, 2017
By Mazin Gilbert

It’s been quite a year for ECOMP, the engine that powers our software-centric network.

We’ve had several years of production experience with ECOMP. During this time, we’ve been writing the platform’s multiple-million lines of code ourselves and testing it in our own network. It’s one of the most challenging and sophisticated software projects in AT&T history. Our goal was to develop an open platform using open source software and technologies.

Last March, John Donovan, head of AT&T Technology and Operations, first introduced ECOMP and our whitepaper. It explained how the software platform rapidly onboards new services we, or third parties, create.

ECOMP provides a framework for real-time, policy-driven software automation of network virtual functions. To date, we have more than 42,000 downloads of the whitepaper.

Developers read the whitepaper, made suggestions and had questions. To answer their questions, we created an ECOMP FAQ. We wanted to unpack each of the major ECOMP components, so the key players at AT&T Labs working on this project dove deeper with a blog series.

Equipment providers and software, network, IT and cloud providers read the whitepaper. And they wanted to understand more about our plans.

We spoke with many of them—and some even came to visit us at AT&T Labs to learn more about the architecture and technologies, and to see demos of new network services ECOMP enabled.

We asked the industry’s thoughts on the whitepaper, and the feedback exceeded our expectations. But we didn’t just respond to all the comments, questions and suggestions. We began developing a structure to make ECOMP available.

Accelerating Industry Adoption

We’ve been in discussions with a number of global operators to join the ECOMP ecosystem. Orange and Bell Canada are testing ECOMP in their networks. We’re also seeing support from the developer and vendor communities. Last year, Amdocs joined our efforts and has been contributing to ECOMP. Working together, ECOMP has become even stronger and more mature. We want to continue the momentum with more operators, developers and suppliers in this effort.

The goal is to build a community around ECOMP – where others contribute to the code and advance the platform. 

We are so committed to this that a few months after our initial announcement, we went a step further and unveiled our plan to open source ECOMP with the Linux Foundation.

Road to Open Source

Open source code allows developers to work together, which enables rapid prototyping. The goal for the industry should be to ultimately develop industry-wide acceptable standardization.

More importantly, we want to help align with the global industry’s standardization goals for these technologies. We believe this will lead to mature wide area software-defined networking (SDN).

Recently at the AT&T Developer Summit, John Donovan talked about our 5G evolution and unveiled AT&T Network 3.0 Indigo. He also provided a look back on 2016 and forward into 2017.

In the coming month, we’ll have more to say about the launch of ECOMP into open source with materials and use cases. This way, the community can use and contribute to it and drive its evolution. We’re getting closer to sharing the software with the Industry.

Stay tuned because we’ll have more very soon. 

Dr. Mazin Gilbert - Vice President of Advanced Technology at AT&T Labs

 

 

 

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