Open source community leader ONAP is teaming up with standards body MEF to further harmonize open source efforts ahead of 5G.

Arpit Joshipura, GM of Networking and Orchestration at the Linux Foundation, told Wireless Week the agreement will allow for “collaboration between open source and open standards.” 

Both groups said they share the same objectives, including orchestrating services across multiple providers and multiple network technology domains and building a framework for real-time, policy-driven software automation of virtual and physical network functions. 

Joshipura said under the collaborative agreement, ONAP will cover all things open source in the networking area, while MEF will focus on the upstream standards, specifically for the Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) framework.

The two groups will leverage the resources of their more than 250 member companies to accelerate the transformation of source-based SDN/NFV and LSO solutions.

ONAP plans to work on its open source specification to ensure it aligns with MEF’s published LSO Legato spec.

“The value to end users is consistency across multiple carriers,” Joshipura said.

The effort also aims to minimize fragmentation in that part of the ecosystem, so end users are not left in a position of uncertainty when trying to integrate new technologies.

It simplifies things because “it’s just one set of standards and one set of open source,” Joshipura noted.

According to the groups, the initial goals of the collaboration include joint work on LSO Framework development and creating standardized open LSO APIs that automate the life cycle for services across multiple provider networks and multiple network technology domains.

MEF and ONAP will provide updates on their collaborative efforts at the MEF17 event this November in Orlando.

As for ONAP’s progress, Joshipura noted that in the past several months, the community reached a “tipping point” with over 55 percent of global mobile subscribers participating through member companies that have joined the community, with Vodafone a recent addition last month.

ONAP’s vibrant developer community came together to create the baseline architecture for its first release, dubbed Amsterdam, which is slated to come out later this year, Joshipura said. A second release is currently in planning and scheduled to come out in May 2018.

Joshipura sees the state of open source networking in three phases. For the initial 137 years of the telecom industry, everything was a proprietary solution, but in the last four years, Joshipura said, the advent of disaggregation and SDN/NFV initiated the first phase.

“All of a sudden the industry was very ripe,” he noted.

Phase two came a couple of years ago when various components actually became production-ready and able to deploy.

Where are we headed? Joshipura thinks that over the next three years the industry will head into the third phase of open source networking, which focuses on bringing those components together in a full, end-to-end solution and harmonizing open source and open standards.

“That’s where ONAP is playing a critical role in making sure it interfaces and makes things harmonized so end-user deployment can happen in a more holistic, end-to-end solutions perspective, rather than just disparate components.”