Talking with Datavision COO Mark Abolafia about the importance of ONAP and persuading service providers to embrace virtualization.

The Open Networking Automation Platform (ONAP) is an open-source networking project hosted by the Linux Foundation. Datavision Inc. is an IT company specializing in networking solutions for software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), edge computing, 5G, data center, network security and other next-gen technologies. With a recent demo, Datavision highlighted the interoperability between ONAP and MEF 3.0, a framework for defining, delivering, and certifying agile, assured and orchestrated communication services across global automated networks.

Superuser talks to Mark Abolafia, Datavision COO, about the importance of ONAP, open source and embracing virtualization.

About the proof-of-concept between ONAP and MEF 3.0, can you break it down for us – what’s the problem you’re solving? And who would benefit?

There are really two approaches to describe in answering that, but let me try to tie it together. ONAP serves as a services design, orchestration and analytics platform used to manage and control network services. The MEF 3.0 framework is a series of interfaces and methodologies used to provide a standardized methodology to provide agile, assured, standards-based communications both within a carrier’s systems and inter-carrier communication – a lingua franca, if you will, for operating companies to exchange service parameters and commercial-related information among themselves so that users can order a service in one operating company’s world and be able to get services provisioned in another operator’s infrastructure in a completely different geography. Global provisioning. These inter- and intra- carrier provisioning (and billing) issues are the problems being solved.

Why are open source and ONAP important to Datavision and the larger industry?

Open source, and ONAP in particular, are important to Datavision because they enable us to be uncoupled from a specific vendor’s proprietary solution. From a business perspective, where engineering and integration is “what we do,” it’s important to be able to control our destiny to some extent by being able to develop, for our clients, a platform that is extensible and open, so they are not subject to vendor lock-in and are able to move forward with the industry and the open source community at that pace, versus some product manager’s pace at a single vendor.

From an industry perspective, frankly, the same criteria apply – having the open-source community develop and advance a solution helps keep things fresh and innovative, and keeps the vendors on their toes.

You wrote that “ONAP is a platform to help service providers embrace virtualization.” What have been the obstacles/concerns that have kept them from doing it until now?

The major obstacles were (are) current legacy system complexity, severe shortage of appropriate skill levels to be networking and software engineers in the same brain, literally, and, of course, the advent of systems capable of actually fulfilling the promise being presented by vendors to the industry.

What’s been the reaction of your customers to open source in general?

Very positive, actually. They recognize the advantages of not being locked into a specific vendor, but on the other side of the coin, they are going in eyes open, realizing the TCO is similar because of the inherent levels of development and ongoing support necessary to pull an open source application/platform into your operation.

What differentiates Datavision’s services from other companies?

We have the on-the-ground experience in defining and refining the requirements for these systems from an architectural level and we have significant real-world deployment experience. We’ve also been in the space since “the beginning,” having been involved with AT&T Domain 2.0 since its inception. So we’ve got a strong history, and the skills and scars to prove it!

What’s the most common request from your customers?

Help us evaluate all the vendors’ claims, help us integrate all these disparate components together and please help us integrate all THAT into our existing systems so we can enable digital transformation of our business.

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