Open Networking Foundation spins off Ananki to deliver open source-based Software Defined Private 5G as per Industry 4.0 requirements

The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) has launched Ananki, an independent venture-backed spin out (from ONF) that will focus on the delivery of open source-based Software Defined Private 5G as a commercial service, addressing the unique requirements of Industry 4.0.

Ananki plans to deliver software defined private 5G that is purpose built for the Industry 4.0 revolution, encompasng M2M mobile networks, IoT, and related communication initiatives.

  • Private 5G is the key to empowering the machine-to-application communications necessary to complete this vision, according to the ONF.
  • Industry 4.0 is a combination of intelligent devices, edge cloud and cloud-based AI/ML which is intended to enable software-based optimization and innovation.

Ananki’s Software-Defined Private 5G+ was said to deliver:

● Optimized 5G+ Experience – Software-defined, automated, AI powered, application optimized connectivity, with enhanced security enabled by a programmable data plane.
● Cloud First – pre-integrated with hyperscaler cloud and edge, delivering private 5G as a SaaS service, creating a continuously improving experience running on any multi-cloud platform.
● Industry 4.0 Ready – Empowering developers to build transformative IoT, IIoT and OT solutions with rich APIs.

Ananki’s technological foundation leverages ONF’s open source Aether™, SD-RAN™, SD-Fabric™ and SD-Core™ projects, and melds them together into a commercial offering that is delivered as a SaaS, making private 5G as easy to consume as wifi for enterprises. ONF also incorporates developer APIs to accelerate the creation of more powerful digital transformation solutions. This open platform is hardened and optimized for industrial applications, and introduces developer APIs to empower the creation of more powerful digital transformation solutions.

Other Highlights:

— Ananki delivers slice/device level SLA assurance for mission critical applications.

— Proactively identify network bottlenecks before they impact your application performance.

— Define application priority once and let Ananki (Self healing/optimizing/organizing network) deliver optimal application performance.

— CI/CD lets you dynamically upgrade your service to handle evolving application  requirements and security threats.

— Telco grade security and resilience to Enterprise operational networks with AI/Ops fault and detection.

Ananki’s Inception:

When ONF’s Aether was selected for the $30M Pronto Project, DARPA encouraged ONF to commercialize the platform in order to advance the impact of the project’s secure 5G research. To date, ONF has operationalized and deployed Aether at 15 locations operating as a cloud managed service.

To accelerate Aether’s adoption, the ONF board voted unanimously to create a new separate venture backed commercial entity to provide an enhanced, hardened solution so vendors and partners can easily incorporate private 5G into the solutions they then build and deliver to enterprises.

Ananki, has been structured as a Public Benefit Corporation to support and promote open source. Furthermore, Ananki shares common executives with the ONF, ensuring that a consistent vision and mission keeps the two entities well aligned.

Quotes:

Andre Fuetsch, ONF Board Chair and AT&T CTO:

“ONF continues to innovate in ways that magnify the power of open systems and open source across our industry. The ONF board recognizes that the lack of support for open source initiatives from commercial companies remains an inhibiting factor for scaled adoption. To meet this challenge, we have agreed to spin out Ananki as an independent company to pursue commercialization of Aether with a view that this will help accelerate the adoption and impact of open source.”

Guru Parulkar, Executive Director ONF and CEO of Ananki:

“Ananki is broadening the impact of the ONF’s work, and will help ONF’s Aether become much more broadly adopted. By providing a commercially supported option for consuming Aether, many more organizations will be able to easily and economically leverage the benefits of Private 5G for building Industry 4.0 solutions. And in turn, Ananki is committed to contributing back to the ONF open source, helping to advance the Aether platform and broaden the ONF community.”

About Ananki:

Ananki delivers a commercially supported Software-Defined Private 5G as-a-service to help facilitate enterprise digital transformation. As a Public Benefit Corporation, Ananki synergistically builds on Open Networking Foundation (ONF) open source software platforms, and in turn contributes focus, funding, developers and contributions to the ONF projects. With Ananki, companies can now choose a commercially supported option when consuming ONF open source.

About the Open Networking Foundation:

The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is an operator-led consortium spearheading disruptive network transformation. Now the recognized leader for open source solutions for operators, the ONF first launched in 2011 as the standard bearer for Software-Defined Networking (SDN). Led by its operator partners AT&T, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Google, NTT Group and Türk Telekom, the ONF is driving vast transformation across the operator space. For further information visit http://www.opennetworking.org

For more information, please visit  ananki.io and/or register to attend a live keynote on September 28th as part of the Private 5G for Industry 4.0 Spotlight event.

References:

 

Vodafone and NEC Europe trial Open RAN technology with voice call

Vodafone and NEC Europe Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of NEC Corporation, in partnership with Altiostar, have jointly announced the first successful voice call made on an open virtual Radio Access Network (Open RAN) on Vodafone’s network in the Netherlands.

Open RAN technology holds promise and potential for next-generation wireless infrastructure. It’s being driven by innovation and open specifications from various consortiums (O-RAN, TIP Open RAN, and ONF). Today’s announcement demonstrates Vodafone’s strong commitment to sustaining its technological leadership, by bringing in such technological advances.

During the course of this trial, Vodafone and NEC intend to integrate solutions of leading Open RAN technology vendors, such as Altiostar [1.] and various other radio vendors, including NEC’s own 5G radio products, using commercial off the shelf (COTS) hardware from third parties, enabling Vodafone to transform its network to a software-based one suiting multiple deployment scenarios.

Note 1.  It’s somewhat surprising that Altiostar was the only OpenRAN software vendor to be mentioned. Altiostar is part-owned by Rakuten and must therefore be near the front of the queue for its OpenRAN vendors. Rakuten has said it would make its Open RAN platform technology available to other operators. If successful,  NEC and Altiostar will be involved in more deals as OpenRAN gathers momentum.  Separately, there is the Rakuten-NEC 5G Core network (based on 3GPP 5G core “vision” specs) that Rakuten also wants to sell to global network operators.

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Rakuten Mobile, NEC Start Production of Open RAN 5G Radio Units

Image Credit: Rakuten Mobile

“We are proud to embark on this journey together with Vodafone that will transform mobile network economics, while deploying technology with greater flexibility, greater efficiencies, and more agility,” said Yogarajah Gopikrishna, GM at NEC Europe. “By integrating best of breed solutions, NEC, as an experienced Open RAN System Integrator, is committed to bring transformative change to the telecommunications space leveraging our long history and experience in mobile network solutions.”

“We are delighted to work together with NEC towards the first live Open RAN site,” said Ruud Koeyvoets, Vodafone Mobile Networks’ Director. “The introduction of the technology enables us to introduce new suppliers, such as Altiostar, giving us greater flexibility when rolling out our mobile network. We’re proud to be pioneering the development of Open RAN and will be monitoring the performance of this pilot.”

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About Vodafone
VodafoneZiggo is a leading Dutch company that provides fixed, mobile and integrated communication and entertainment services to consumers and businesses. As of June 30, 2020 we have more than 5 million mobile, nearly 4 million TV, nearly 3.4 million fixed broadband internet and 2.4 million fixed telephony subscriptions. VodafoneZiggo is a joint venture by Liberty Global, the largest international TV and broadband internet company, and Vodafone Group, one of the world’s largest telecommunication companies.

About NEC Europe Ltd.
NEC Europe Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of NEC Corporation, a leader in the integration of IT network technologies that benefit businesses and people around the world. NEC Europe Ltd. is building upon its heritage and reputation for innovation and quality by providing its expertise, solutions and services to a broad range of customers, from telecom operators to enterprises and the public sector. For additional information, please visit the NEC Europe Ltd. home page at:
http://uk.nec.com/

 

References:

https://www.nec.com/en/press/202010/global_20201019_04.html

Why It’s IMPORTANT: Telefonica, Rakuten MOU on Open RAN, 5G Core Network and OSS

Comcast: ONF Trellis software is in production together with L2/L3 white box switches

Jet lagged yet energetic and cheerful, Comcast Senior VP of Next Generation Access Networks Elad Nafshi returned from a motor bike trip in the European alps (via a red eye flight from Frankfurt, Germany to SFO) to deliver an important keynote speech at the  Open Networking Foundation (ONF) Connect 2019 conference in Santa Clara, CA this Friday.  A graduate of Tel Aviv University, Mr. Nafshi has been with Comcast for over 14 years.

Elad announced that Comcast, the leading ISP in the U.S. by subscribers, has deployed the open source ONF Trellis software and reference hardware design “in multiple markets with real customers.” He noted that “This is not a technical trial or PoC. We have not deployed a new appliance. We deployed an entire ecosystem.”

Trellis is an SDN-based, multi-purpose leaf-spine (AKA spine-leaf) switching fabric designed for access-and-edge networks, NFV, and edge cloud applications. It uses the Open Network Operating System (ONOS) open source SDN controller running in an x86 based compute server and the OpenFlow protocol as a “southbound API” (Control plane to/from Data plane) to interface with multiple interconnected white box/bare metal L2/L3 switches.  That configuration is shown in the illustration below.

Image result for illustration of Trellis leaf spine fabric

Comcast, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, and Infosys collectively authored a reference design for Trellis in April 2019.  Reference designs are “blueprints” developed by ONF’s Operator members (AT&T, China Unicom, Comcast, Deutsche Telekom, Google, NTT Group, and Turk Telekom), to address specific use cases for the emerging edge cloud/broadband and mobile access networks.

“In collaboration with the ONF and a team of supply chain vendors, Comcast is deploying the open source Trellis platform as the networking fabric in our next generation access network,”  Nafshi said in a press release. “This has been a multiple year journey from design, to extensive field trials and finally to production rollout, and we’re impressed with the results and the advantages that using open source and Trellis are delivering for us as we upgrade our access network,” he added.

While Elad said that Trellis rollouts are accelerating and may “soon come to an area near you,” he declined to answer questions about the locations, size or scale of Comcast’s Trellis deployments.   I talked to Elad after his speech and found him to be very engaging and congenial.

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Comcast claims an open source- and a white box-based Ethernet backhaul is integral to its next generation network access strategy.  By using Trellis, Nafshi said Comcast improved network scalability as well as space and power facility efficiencies in its cable head-ends.

Trellis plays a key role in Comcast’s next generation Distributed Access Architecture (DAA) [1] strategy, which uses an Ethernet-based converged interconnect network (CIN).  Comcast is using Trellis within this CIN.

Note 1.  Distributed Access Architecture (DAA) enables the evolution of cable networks by decentralizing and virtualizing headend and network functions. DAA extends the digital portion of the head-end or hub domain out to the fiber optic node and places the digital to RF interface at the optical-coax boundary in the node. Replacing the analog optics from the head-end converts the fiber link to a digital fiber Ethernet link, increasing the available bandwidth improving fiber efficiencies (wavelengths and distance), and directional alignment with NFV/SDN/FTTx systems of the future.

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“This has been a multiple year journey from design, to extensive field trails and finally to production rollout, and we’re impressed with the results and the advantages that using open source and Trellis are delivering for us as we upgrade our access network,” Elad said.

While Comcast’s conventional network currently relies on embedded routing and switching protocols running on individual vendor specific switches, Trellis software runs in a cloud-native SDN fashion on a cluster of standard compute server nodes each of which implements a centralized control plane via the ONOS SDN controller.  This new SDN based architecture makes network design, deployment, debug and upgrades much simpler, while minimizing network complexity and cost.

“This is real, true production at scale,” said ONF VP of Marketing Timon Sloane. “The design has been vetted and tested and hardened over multiple years.  It’s in multiple markets, with tens of thousands of subscribers.”

“The open source ecosystem created by ONF has collectively established a new ‘Distributed DevOps’ model through the process of trialing, hardening and deploying Trellis with Comcast.  This has established a new formula for open source whereby an operator, ONF and a consortium of commercial entities come together to collectively build and stand behind a deployment,” said Saurav DasVice President of Engineering for the ONF.

Earlier at this week’s ONF Connect 2019 event, Arthur D. Little, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, and Telefónica released a study that found virtualized, cloud-based architectures can save network operators 40% in capex and 25% in opex.

References:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/comcast-has-achieved-production-roll-out-of-trellis-open-source-networking-fabric-300917819.html

https://www.opennetworking.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/ONF-Reference-Design-Trellis-032919.pdf

https://www.sdxcentral.com/articles/news/comcast-deploys-open-source-trellis-in-multiple-markets/2019/09/

https://www.fiercetelecom.com/operators/comcast-puts-open-source-networking-software-into-production