Leading telcos join project to open IT architecture to cloud

Leading telcos join project to open IT architecture to the cloud

01 December 2020 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Three telcos — Axiata, Orange and Vodafone — have helped to start an industry organisation to push the use of cloud-native software for telecoms IT systems.

They are the three telco members in the TM Forum’s new open digital architecture (ODA) project, launched today, to help the industry deploy cloud native software-based networks.

“It changes the way software is acquired and built,” Andy Tiller, the TM Forum’s VP for member innovation, told Capacity. “If a service provider wants to replace a piece of IT, it could go straight to a catalogue.”

The ODA project is not designed to replace the telecoms industry’s existing operations support systems (OSS) and business support systems (BSS) with open-source software, he said. “The industry already has a lot of mature commercial products.”

The aim is to make them interoperable, he explained. The three telcos will be joined by a range of other companies in the industry: Accenture, Global Wavenet, Globetom, Oracle, SigScale and Whale Cloud.

“OSS/BSS has been heavily customised and it has become more and more expensive over time — expensive to build and expensive to operate,” said Tiller. “Something has to be done.” Software “has to be compatible and that needs to be designed in. We’re not trying to build open-source OSS and BSS.”

The TM Forum is launching the project today, and it will be split into three equal parts of two months each, concluding at the end of May 2021.

Can other companies join the ODA project? “It’s open for more to join, but these are companies that will roll up their sleeves and do the work,” said Tiller. “The idea is to get it running quickly and then get it up to the rest of the membership.”

The organisation has more than 850 member companies from across the industry, according to the TM Forum website, including AT&T, Bharti Airtel, China Mobile and Deutsche Telekom. The ODA project is being run through a special purpose entity, TMF.Codes, said Tiller.