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Overview of ONAP Architecture and Best Practices

Navdeep Singh Gill | 08 December 2018


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What is ONAP?

It's a project under the governance of the Linux Foundation and founded by AT&T and China Mobile. ONAP stands for Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) is an initiative created by the combination of the ECOMP and Open-O projects into ONAP, to bring the capabilities for designing, creating, orchestrating and handling of the full lifecycle management of VNF (Virtual Network Functions) or Network functions virtualization (NFV), SDN (Software Defined Networks), and the services that all of these things require. Note - The primary goal of ONAP is to implement the capabilities needed for orchestration and handling of the full lifecycle management of VNF deployments. ONAP is the platform which works above the infrastructure layer to automate the network. ONAP allows end users to connect products and services through the infrastructure. It allows deployments of VNFs and scaling of the network, in a fully automated manner. The high-level architecture of ONAP consists of different software subsystems that broadly divided into a design-time environment, and execution time environment to execute what the designed platforms. ONAP community defines blueprints for various use case during each release, which can be adopted by the users immediately. Some essential uses cases are -
  • 5G
  • VoLTE
  • vCPE
ONAP will bring the next revolution in the field of networking. ONAP stands for open network automation platform and manages the virtually defined networks. What is the VNF or what's the big deal about this Virtual Networking? VNF - Network functions virtualization is a network architecture concept that uses the technologies of IT virtualization to virtualize entire classes of network node functions into building blocks that may connect, or chain together, to create communication services. - wikipedia.

Why VNF or SDN required?

There are lots of reason (like vendor issues, complex control panel) to move to virtualization or software-defined architecture. All the hardware network devices have data plane(describe where data forwarded done through network addressing) and control plane the complex one(its work as a decision maker and control where should traffic be sent and how quickly). Control panel is not as simple as network architecture have multiple devices type then have multiple control plane one for each, which results in multiple decision-makers in your n/w which become very complex even at typical network configuration that has a router paired with a firewall device plus a WAN acceleration device. To solve these issues and reduce the complexity there comes software defined or virtual networking, that abstract the data plane and control plane. The NVF converts the single hardware task to the virtual machine or software-defined which do the same work done by hardware devices but in more Agile and adaptive ways. It's a software application used in Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) that has defined interfaces and provides well-defined networking functions components; the components can be one or more, example, a security VNF have a function related to NAT and Firewall. But VNF too have various challenges like Vendor Compatibility and many others, it enables VNF ( Virtual Network Functions), and other network functions and services easily understandable in an automated, policy-driven Real-Time environment. This provides everyone the ability to fully create, design and deploy for Automated Network Services.

How ONAP Works?

ONAP is the result of many software subsystems combined, these subsystems broadly divided into two major architectural framework parts - Design-time framework - It defines, designs and programs the platform. Again design-time framework consists of the following subsystems - Service Design and Creation (SDC) - It defines, simulates, and certifies assets and their associated processes and policies. Policy - It enables the creation and deployment of rules to instantiate conditions, requirements, constraints, attributes, or needs regarding the assets provisioned, maintained, or enforced. Run-time framework - To execute the programmed logic defined in the design phase. It also consists of following subsystems -
  • Active and Available Inventory (AAI)
  • Controllers
  • Dashboard
  • Data Collection, Analytics, and Events (DCAE)
  • Master Service Orchestrator (MSO)
  • ONAP Optimization Framework (OOF)
  • Security Framework

Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) Modeling

The business logic of the software application defined through the model at a higher level of abstraction, separated from the implementation code in a specific programming language. Through model transformation techniques such as code generation, the running code generated or its behavior changed, and ONAP is model driven which makes it Agile and adapts to new tech changes quickly. To support models/templates, ONAP features the separation of Run-time and Design-time environments. There are four modeling domains in ONAP -
  • Deployment
  • Closed-loop
  • SDN
  • Configuration

Features Of ONAP

  • Add new features quickly.
  • Deploy on the go.
  • Dynamically introduce full-service lifecycle orchestration.
  • Metadata-driven and policy-driven architecture.
  • Carrier-grade scalability.
  • Closed-loop automation.
  • One common portal to manage all components.

Why Open Network Automation Platform Matters?

Earlier to ONAP, operators of large networks faced a challenge to scale as well as the cost of manual changes to implement new service offerings, from installing a new data center. It enabled to handle previously manual tasks, such as allocating bandwidth or designing and provisioning service automatically. ONAP enables Real-Time, policy-driven network automation and orchestration of Physical and Virtual Network Functions. It delivers the capability to design, create, orchestrate, manage and monitor the full lifecycle of VNFs and higher level services with ease. With ONAP, move legacy networks into the software-defined future.

Benefits of Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP)

  • Remove the need for human interaction, i.e. fully automated.
  • Increased Flexibility, i.e. no vendor lock-in, plenty of VNF to choose from.
  • Scalable: Scale-out rather than scaling up.
  • Through a single dashboard, manage multiple network services.
  • Support 5G/IoT evolution.
  • Improve the customer experience.

How to Adopt ONAP?

ONAP available as Microservices, and have Docker containers, deploy it on Kubernetes cluster. The ONAP Operations Manager (OOM) accountable for orchestrating the end-to-end lifecycle management and monitoring of ONAP components. OOM need Kubernetes to provide CPU efficiency and platform deployment. OOM enhances ONAP platform by providing scalability and resiliency enhancements to the components it manages.

Install through helm
helm install osn/onap
ONAP created as a Microservices-based system, with all components released as Docker containers, deploy it to cluster through kubectl and helm.

Best Practices Of ONAP

  • CII Badging Program.
  • Credential Protection and Management.
  • Static Code Scans.
  • VNF Package Security.

A Holistic Approach

The ONAP platform provides a broad platform for Real-Time, policy-driven orchestration, and automation of physical as well as for Virtual Network Functions, which results in enabling of automation of various new services and supports offered by different software, network, and Cloud providers. It's the future as it will support the 5G, IoT and it helps in taking the full advantage of NFV. Its an automation without hard coding, a Cloud-Native app, and integrated into CI/CD. To know more about open network automation platform, you are advised to take below steps: Read more about " Cloud Native Applications" Benefits To know more about ONAP, " Get in Touch" with our team