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International Telecommunication Union
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New Group Targets Off The Shelf Software
OCAF will design framework for next generation software integration

Geneva, 20 May 2004 — The global move to next generation networks (NGN) took another step forward today with the formation of a new Focus Group set up by ITU to tackle key components of the packet based networks of the future. The standards setting body has announced the creation of the Open Communications Architecture Forum (OCAF) Focus Group. OCAF will outline requirements for a set of components for new carrier grade open platforms that will accelerate deployment of NGN infrastructure and services. The group was created in response to a call by industry players to fast track the work that will help service providers, equipment and software vendors address the complexity of moving to NGN.

The announcement further underlines ITU’s commitment to the development of NGN and follows the recent formation of a NGN Focus Group earlier this month to address the emerging needs for global standards for Next Generation Networks (NGN) (see here).

OCAF is made up of key ICT (Information and Communication Technology) players from all sectors. Its primary aim is to address the complexity of interoperability between multiple vendor products as service providers migrate to NGN.

The last few years have seen telecommunication solution providers move from in house developed software to integrating commercial off-the-shelf software (COTS) into their solutions. However a lack of standards means that costs remain high for licensing, adapting and integrating this software. OCAF seeks to orchestrate a solution to move from this non-standards based environment, which will benefit all industry sectors. The group has identified a need for a framework that outlines the open interfaces and standards required to deploy COTS solutions in NGNs. COTS solutions are seen by many as an important way of driving costs out of infrastructure while continuing to deliver innovative services and decrease the time to market.

OCAF will focus on topics not currently addressed by other consortiums, namely platform services, middleware and will enable applications to allow carriers implementing NGN architecture to have greater choice of system solutions. This means that components from multiple vendors can be integrated into a single system. In defining this framework OCAF will use existing standards as well as new specifications, some of which will be published as ITU-T Recommendations.

Houlin Zhao, Director of the ITU-Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, "We are honoured that industry sees ITU as the place to do this work. OCAF is designed to promote the rapid adoption of key industry standards and accelerate the movement to next generation network infrastructure. We believe that OCAF will stimulate availability of low cost, carrier grade open platforms, enabling a customer focused next generation ecosystem of tested and integrated platforms — from telecom solution providers. Independent software vendors, application software providers and solutions integrators will play an important role within the total ecosystem."

Brian Moore, Chairman ITU-T Study Group 13 adds, "OCAF sees ITU as the best place to take on this work. The formation of this Focus Group is an important example of the way that ITU is working with industry to best accommodate its needs. It is seen by all members as the most efficient way of dealing with the urgent need to be able to migrate smoothly and cost-effectively to NGN."

OCAF will shortly issue an invitation for companies and organizations to join. Further information about OCAF is available here.

For further information please contact:

Mr Greg Jones
ITU-T Communications Coordinator
Tel: +41 22 730 5515

Mr B. Georges Sebek
Counsellor to Study Groups 17 and 13
Tel: +41 22 730 5994

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Updated : 2004-08-10