Broadband Forum and ONF ease the path to automated and open virtualised access networks

A new agreement between Broadband Forum (BBF) and the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) sets forth how operators seeking to effectively use virtualisation and open source to increase agility can leverage open source and standardisation projects side-by-side to ease their migrations to automated access networks and enable seamless co-existence. 

As the broadband industry embarks on the next phase of broadband deployment, numerous new business opportunities are emerging that require rapid service instantiation, often across disparate, software-defined networks, and leveraging third-party applications. To take advantage of this untapped potential, operators are looking to interconnect different parts of their network with open source solutions and systems from various suppliers.

BBF’s OB-BAA

Open Broadband-Broadband Access Abstraction (OB-BAA) is a BBF open source project that enables SDN-based management and control of multi-vendor, multi-technology access networks via a standard abstraction northbound interface. It facilitates co-existence and seamless migration, bringing the agility to adapt to a wide variety of software defined access models. This abstraction simplifies and reduces development upstream in management and control software for Physical and Virtual Network Functions (PNFs and VNFs). Inherent in the OB-BAA project is the ability to pull differing access device types, including legacy implementations, together under a single standardised network and service management & control umbrella to be exposed to management elements such as the SDN Management and Control and Element Management Systems. 

ONF’s SEBA / VOLTHA 

ONF’s SDN Enabled Broadband Access (SEBA) platform takes a disaggregated white-box approach to building next generation access networks leveraging open source.  Functionality traditionally run on chassis-based Optical Line Terminals (OLTs) and on Broadband Network Gateway (BNG) routers is run in the cloud, and the hardware is minimized to a collection of simple white-box OLTs, switches and servers.  SEBA wraps together this collection of open source hardware and software into a comprehensive platform that exposes northbound FCAPS interfaces, making it straight forward to integrate a SEBA POD with an operator’s OSS/BSS system.  

ONF’s Virtual OLT Hardware Abstraction (VOLTHA) open source software project abstracts a PON network to make it manageable as if it were a standard OpenFlow switch.  Functionality like DHCP and user authentication is run as open source in the cloud, giving operators control over functions that have traditionally been embedded in vendor tightly integrated chassis solutions. VOLTHA is used as a component of the SEBA platform and can also be used standalone by operators wanting to leverage just the specific capabilities of access network abstraction and SDN control.

Summary

BAA and SEBA/VOLTHA are complementary because they solve different carrier problems, while addressing operators’ increasing desire to move to agile, software-defined access networks via open source development with open and standardised interfaces. The agreement between Broadband Forum and ONF further builds on this by focusing on the most important aspects of migration and co-existence to interconnect existing parts of the access network with new technologies.

Broadband Forum and ONF believe that many types of carrier deployments would benefit from the capabilities offered by OB-BAA and SEBA/VOLTHA. The cooperation between the two organisations takes their work to the next level, providing an effective and efficient path for operators to leverage the innovations and benefits of both initiatives while ensuring interoperability, high performance, scalability and maximum reliability.

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