SK Telecom commercializes T-MANO platform for NFV MANO

SK Telecom T-MANO (SK)
SK Telecom based its T-MANO on the specs set by the ETSI Industry Specification Group. (SK Telecom)

There’s been a lot of talk about NFV Management and Orchestration (MANO) in the U.S., but South Korea’s SK Telecom said it has commercialized T-MANO in an effort to more efficiently use its virtualized network equipment.

Prior to the development of T-MANO, the company had to develop, build and operate a separate NFV management platform for each different network equipment provider due to the fact that their NFV equipment was built on different specifications depending on the manufacturer.

“With the commercialization of T-MANO, SK Telecom secures the basis for accelerating the application of NFV technologies to provide better services for customers,” said Choi Seung-won, senior vice president and head of Infrastructure Strategy Office, in a release. “We will continue to develop NFV technologies and accumulate operational knowhow for virtualized networks to thoroughly prepare for the upcoming era of 5G.”

SK said T-MANO has been optimized to SK Telecom’s network environment based on the specifications set by the ETSI Industry Specification Group. The operator expects T-MANO to help expand the telecom infrastructure ecosystem by opening up the Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) of T-MANO so that anyone can use it to build virtualized network equipment or software.

As Light Reading pointed out, the move is not dissimilar to AT&T’s efforts to make its ECOMP software platform available to others through the Linux Foundation. AT&T introduced ECOMP last year and in February, The Linux Foundation announced the merger of ECOMP with the foundation’s open source networking project called Open O, forming ONAP.

AT&T hopes the broader industry will adopt ONAP as a standard OS for software-centric networks. Indeed, John Donovan, chief strategy officer and group president of AT&T Technology and Operations, said earlier this week that some 55% of global wireless subscribers represented by operators have signed onto ONAP.

That includes the likes of Bell Canada, China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Orange and Reliance Jio, as well as Nokia, Ericsson, Huawei and ZTE.

SK Telecom said it will first apply T-MANO to its virtualized VoLTE (HD Voice) routers and then expand its application to virtualized LTE Evolved Packet Core (EPC) and additional equipment including MMS server. Virtualized EPC will take up about 80% of newly deployed EPC in 2017, according to SK Telecom. And it’s serious about virtualizing; from 2019 on, the company said it will deploy only virtualized EPC.

The operator noted that it has been leading the field of NFV technologies by commercializing an international standard-based NFV system orchestrator, named T-OVEN, in 2015, and it’s been applying NFV technologies to its base station equipment since September 2016. The company is also taking part in the global standardization efforts, and earlier this year, its two core technologies of T-MANO were reflected in ETSI’s standards.