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September 8, 2017 by Alan DiCicco

Are you ready for a Cloud Central Office?

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Just when you thought you had figured out the ON.Lab CORD project with its virtual OLT hardware abstraction (VOLTHA) controller, along comes the Broadband Forum’s Cloud Central Office (CloudCO) project to wake us from our end-of-summer slumber. To be fair, the CloudCO project has been active since early 2016, so it is not new, just news worthy. The CloudCO project shares many goals and architectural tenets with CORD, and can be summed up as, "bringing cloud benefits to the central office."

How does CloudCO differ from CORD? The most important difference to me is that CORD is an open source project while the CloudCO project will produce standards (i.e., Technical Reports) with requirements for implementation and interoperability. That is an important distinction to service providers. Open source projects often get started based on the needs of a small number of participants and interoperability is not usually conceived from the beginning. In the Broadband Forum's efforts, interoperability requirements are built in at the earliest stages of architecture definition.

CloudCO is the new flagship project for the Broadband Forum and many service providers and nearly all access systems and software suppliers are participating. Here are two critical components of the project:

  • CloudCO starts with the requirement to create a standardized functional architecture with interoperable interfaces. This includes the northbound APIs that will enable end-to-end service creation, but also the definition of interfaces between the functional components of the architecture. Hurray! Standard interfaces and data models will pay huge dividends. Just ask cable TV service providers.
  • CloudCO embraces support for greenfield networks, migration of existing networks to a next generation CloudCO, and long term coexistence with existing networks. Broadband Forum work is based on views from many service providers and traditional systems and software suppliers who all recognize that CloudCO is a major restructuring of the central office that will not all happen at once. Old and new technologies will need to coexist for a decade or longer.

The CloudCO project is making good progress, and there is much more we can talk about. Stay tuned. Next week I’ll dive into the architecture further and talk about how AXOS and Calix are contributing to your CloudCO future.