I see headlines about autonomous vehicles every day – those self-driving cars we all want. Augmented reality lays on top of our real world. Virtual reality takes us to different realms. And of course, artificial intelligence does all the heavy technological lifting for us.

But that’s all just talk. Part of my job is bringing that talk to life.

How is all of that really going to become a functional reality? In a world of many different visions of the future, how will we agree on the practical technology to make it all happen? It’ll take global collaboration in which we share, test and apply ideas and standards. When companies put the needs of the entire world at the forefront.

That’s happening now with ONAP, an open source platform available for anyone to use. It stands for Open Networking Automation Platform. And thanks to ONAP, which came directly from our own ECOMP, operators and vendors around the world unite under one vision. ECOMP stands for Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy.

We’re a big fan of acronyms at AT&T. I mean, we are an acronym.

Let’s discuss what ONAP does.

Walking the walk

ONAP gives the industry one model for open source collaboration. It gets providers and technology leaders onto the same page to contribute to the technology itself, refine and drive it to the next generation.

This unified approach creates interoperability, meaning a developer in China can write an app for a user in California. With this approach, we can work together and make room for an explosion of innovation.

We’re building on the same foundation instead of working separately, replicating the same code. In turn, we speed the creation of a standard operating system for our network. And the faster we create a strong foundation that helps us manage our network, the faster we can get the keys to those self-driving cars.

What does this mean for the customer?

From here, technology will only get more sophisticated. Back in the 1980s, I was a PhD student searching for the perfect topic for my graduate thesis – something cutting edge. I spent time researching how the brain operates and studied articles from Bell Labs about training machines to automate tasks. This was a radical new way of thinking.

Today, automation and virtualization are poised to change how companies manage the network globally. Whether you’re using it to stream movies and music, navigate your way around a new city or virtually enter into another realm, ONAP ensures that your network can keep up. The platform manages real-time adaptation to new demands and applications that become available.

Learn more about other open source initiatives here

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

Mazin Gilbert
Mazin Gilbert Vice President of Advanced Technology & Systems at AT&T Labs