AT&T, Amdocs & Open Source ECOMP: Opening Pandora’s Box

David Snow - Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

David Snow – Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:                 

  • AT&T’s selection of Amdocs as integrator for its ECOMP platform has taken the market by surprise, although there have been indicators of collaboration between the two companies for several months.
  • Endowing Amdocs with the responsibility for managing ECOMP within an open source MANO group poses a risk that other vendors may shy away from contributing their software.

The news last week that AT&T has selected Amdocs “to serve as integrator for companies adopting AT&T’s open source Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management & Policy (ECOMP) platform” seems to have met with relatively little market reaction. This may be due to something as mundane as the fact that this is the holiday season or perhaps that the many players in the NFV management and network orchestration (MANO) ecosystem are still digesting the impact of such news. From the Current Analysis perspective, we see AT&T’s move as very significant as our intelligence alert “AT&T Gives Amdocs a Key Role in Plotting ECOMP World Domination” indicates.

So what makes this announcement so significant? Firstly, it is clear that AT&T wants ECOMP to become the world standard for NFV orchestration and is taking all possible steps to make that happen. Secondly, as part of that strategy, it is not only enlisting the support of the open source community but also the assistance of a specific vendor, Amdocs, to manage the integration process. While AT&T’s ECOMP/Open Source strategy is certainly ambitious, if not contentious, it’s the selection of Amdocs that makes AT&T’s move really disruptive. That’s not to say that Amdocs’ involvement should really have come as such a surprise to the market, as the following shows:

  • March 15, 2016 – AT&T publishes its ECOMP white paper. Two of ECOMP’s eight modules (“AT&T Service Design & Creation” and “Active and Available Inventory”) bear an uncanny resemblance in name and functionality to components of Amdocs’ MANO offering (“Amdocs Service Design & Create” and “Amdocs Active Inventory”).
  • July 13, 2016 – AT&T Releases Its Network Playbook into Open Source. AT&T reported that it “is currently working with the Linux Foundation on the structure for this open source initiative … We’ve engaged a third-party company to be the integrator and provide support in the industry for the ECOMP platform.”
  • July 26, 2016 – AT&T and Amdocs Collaborate to Deliver Open Software Solutions to Accelerate Network Function Virtualization. AT&T, in an analyst webinar, also revealed that it had been working with Amdocs for six or seven months.

What AT&T has done is to insert a single major telco IT vendor into its ECOMP “value chain,” giving Amdocs considerable competitive advantage. That would be fair enough if ECOMP was simply an AT&T/Amdocs JV project, but AT&T has also given Amdocs the task of managing both AT&T’s and Amdocs’ ECOMP contributions in the Open-Orchestrator (OPEN-O) Linux Foundation open source MANO project. That won’t go down well with other vendors participating in OPEN-O, such as Huawei and Ericsson. Why? Simply put, their code could end up in Amdocs’ product. In fact, it may not be welcomed by any vendor now considering contributing code to an open source MANO project, should ECOMP extend its influence as AT&T hopes it will.

To its credit, AT&T hasn’t officially ruled out the possibility of introducing another ECOMP integrator, which may dilute the “Amdocs effect.” Still, AT&T may just have opened a MANO ecosystem Pandora’s box and it remains to be seen how other vendors and carriers will react.

 

About David Snow
As Principal Analyst for Service Provider Infrastructure, David is responsible for tracking the evolution and key developments within the IP Services Infrastructure market. His coverage areas include Hosted Multimedia Application Servers, IP Multimedia Subsystems (IMS), Mobile Softswitching, Policy Control, Service Delivery Platforms (SDPs), Session Border Controls (SBCs) and Softswitches.

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