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  • 1.  Relationship between ODA, eTOM and Autonmous Networks

    TM Forum Member
    Posted Jul 09, 2021 04:53


    This question has come up time and time again… so here is to mine my thoughts. As a CEA that tries to reduce complexity and simplify the Lego work of different architectures (meta-architecture), the question around the difference and relationship between the Open Digital Architecture, Autonomous Network and eTOM comes to understanding the primitives of what makes these different "frameworks", and more the problem they are each trying to solve.

    I think the question pivots on "meta-architecture" because of the need to have an overarching description of how the three work together, and yet are different. It also hints at understanding the key concepts, value propositions, and goals of each framework in a way that enables one to address a problem space soundly.

    One key assumption here is that, while eTOM and ODA are well-grounded on some very clear goals, AND is still evolving, so assuming the goals are not moving targets, here is my thought.

    To do justice to comparing them, I will superimpose on these concepts a parallel view, using the automobile industry. This is so that we can map these frameworks to something a bit more concrete and everyday relatable… at least to most of you. 



    Autonomous Driving Network (ADN or Autonomous Network), leans heavily on the "Self-driving Car" concepts (levels of autonomy and adaptive capabilities, etc.), therefore I use that as a reference to drive parallel concepts about how eTOM, ODA and ADN are related.

    Comparing eTOM to ODA and AN.







    A de facto ontology that organizes all the enterprises' activities into lifecycle stages and value streams.

    Enterprise architecture for a digital business that identifies and organizes the key and new functions, functionalities, interworking, and component requirements.

    New solution architecture for defining, managing, and operating the business is based on well-defined outcomes-based closed loops and autonomous domains.

    Key concepts

    Ontology, Enterprise Activities, Value Streams

    Enterprise Architecture, New Functions, Functionalities, Components

    Solution Architecture, Closed Loops, Autonomous Domains

    Examples of key parts

    Resource Strategy & Planning activities:

    ·   Gather and analyze resource information,

    ·    Manage resource research,

    ·    Establish Resource Strategy & Architecture,

    ·   Define Resource Support Strategies,

    ·   Produce Resource Business Plans,

    ·   Develop Resource Partnership Requirements,

    ·   Gain Enterprise Commitment to Resource Plan,

    ·   Resource Test Strategy

    ·   Etc.


    All these activities for Resource Strategy Planning are done to strategize on resources… such as moving from 4G Network to 5G Network. These are level 3 decompositions of the upper-level activity and can be further decomposed into the discrete set of lower activities.


    PS. There are no implied steps in this decomposition. How an organization "strings" them together is totally up to their solution architecture.

    Core Functions:

    ·   Engagement Management

    ·   Party Management

    ·   Core Commerce Management Function

    ·   Etc.

    Example of "Core Commerce" Functional Components:

    ·  Product Catalog

    ·  Configure, Price & Quote

    ·  Product Order Inventory

    ·  Product Rating

    ·  Product Order Orchestration & Management,

    ·  Product Order Capture & Validation

    ·  Etc.


    All these are examples of the modularization or componentization that is needed to achieve a level of commercial flexibility – the ability to embrace different commercial business models (b2c, b2b2c, etc.). Each of these components specifies the boundary of services, the way they can integrate with other components (using REST-based APIs) in a standard template of specifications. There is no mandate on the environment here. Recall, this is enterprise architecture.


    PS. There is no implied or mandated approach to realize these Functions and their components.

    Autonomous Domains and Closed loops:

    ·  RAN as an autonomous domain

    ·  Core Network as an autonomous domain

    ·  Mobile Network as an autonomous domain

    ·  Fixed network as an autonomous domain etc.

    ·  4/5 Closed loops: user closed-loop, business closed-loop, service closed-loop resource closed loop.


    PS. There is no implied or mandated requirement of what a domain should cover. It can be RAN+TX, RAN+TX+CORE for a network type, it can be a whole Data Centers or a group of Data Centers with everything in it, or it could be the whole Mobile Network or Mobile + Fixed Network. The key about an autonomous domain is that you engage with it based on well-defined objectives and goals, and it does so either purely autonomously with machines, or a combination of man and machine (a reference to AN levels).

    Automobile Analogy

    Examples of activities in planning for a car:

    ·   Research existing car manufacturers (Who are the best car manufacturers… maybe in my region, etc.)

    ·   Gather information about the different cars (Some manufactures have both ICE and NEV)

    ·   Establish Car Strategy & Architecture (This will help to address concerns such as: Which car should I buy? ICE or NEV, or hybrid or 4WD or 2WD or Extended Range, etc.),

    ·   Define Car Support Strategies (This will help identify concerns about: Do I have enough Fuel Stations around me, Do I have enough Charging stations around me, Is the Electricity supply constant, are my roads ok for LOW CG car, etc.)

    ·   Produce Resource Business Plans (this will help to identify concerns about: how am I going to use the car in a way that brings me sustainable value? Must I do ride sharing to help pay for the operation cost? Etc.)

    ·   Develop Resource Partnership Requirements (This will help to identify concerns about: How do I maintain this car? Should I sign up with 4S shop or use Aftermarket repair shops or parts suppliers? What aftermarket partners to use? How do I assure service levels etc.)?


    Examples of core Functions and components for EV Car:

    ·   Electric Motor

    ·   Power Transmission Shaft

    ·   Motor Drive Function (Electric vs. Combustion engine)

    ·   Charging port (Re-fueling port)

    ·   DC/DC Converter

    ·   Controller & Inverter

    ·   Thermal System (cooling)

    ·   Onboard Charger

    ·   Traction Battery Pack

    ·   Auxiliary Battery

    ·   Information Display Unit

    ·   Steering

    ·   Suspension system


    Examples of Autonomous Domain:

    ·  An ICE taxi car contracted to operate by a company operating in a geofenced area with a human driver.

    ·  An EV self-driving taxi car operating in a geofenced area with no human driver

    ·  An ICE taxi service with some assisted driving capability operating in an area

    ·  A self-driving school bus with fully autonomous operations

    ·  A self-driving SF or FedEx or DHL trailer that picks and delivers goods for customers.



    Note: In all these scenarios where an Electric Vehicle is used, the car /bus will have all the Functions of an EV (ODA), and the activities needed to be done are described by eTOM.

    Autonomous Network however is deliberately including "how" the different activities are done (either by man, man-machine, or machine)


    Value Proposition

    Define what the organization does.

    Know the organizations' activities linked to business goals.

    Know the key value streams.

    Define the requirements for functions of a digital organization and

    modularize such requirements into well-defined, well-bounded, and well-specified components.

    Define how to reduce dependence on humans in the operations, and hide the backend complexity to plan, implement, maintain and optimize well-defined and well-bounded domains.


    Standardize the lingua franca for enterprise-independent activities based on well-defined management and operations requirements based on a well-structured ontology.

    Standardize the Functions, Components, and interworking interfaces for any digital solution for a digital business using standardized ontology.

    Standardize the levels of Autonomy, the Autonomy domains, and the means to communicate requirements to a domain.



    It is an architecture thing to ensure one can clearly inter-network understanding of different concepts to make them useful individually and collectively. It is key to translating a business need or challenge into an opportunity. So I will recap like so: 

    • eTOM – enhanced Telecom Operations Map:

    It describes all the "WHAT" – the activities are done by an organization (digital, or non-digital, or phygital). These activities cover Strategy-to-Readiness (Strategy Management, Capability Delivery, Lifecycle Management) and Operations (Operations Readiness& Support, Fulfillment, Assurance, Billing & Revenue Management) across all areas of the enterprise (or organization).

    • ODA – Open Digital Architecture:

    Organizes and introduces a new enterprise architecture for a digital business (digital service provider or digital service enabler etc.) that includes a set of Functions, the activities the Functions support, the functionalities within the set of well-bounded components that are in the Function, and specifications around the interworking between these components in and between Functions.

    In an analogy of the car... it's synonymous with shifting from ICE to New Energy Vehicles (i.e. digital business). "ODA" provides the relevant details to specify the different functions of such a NEV, which include Steering, Car Body (lighter body, use of lighter materials, casting adjacent parts in one piece, etc.), Suspension, Transmission, Brakes, etc. In the traditional car, (traditional BSS/OSS/Resource), exhaust systems exist. In NEV (digital business), the internal combustion engine, and exhaust, etc. are removed.  Electric Vehicles remove these parts… as is the case of ODA removing some of the traditional BSS/OSS/Resource management, thereby making it more agile and responsive for a new experience.

    ODA presents the future of digital business into an enterprise architecture framework.

    • Autonomous Network:

    Simplifies the solution on "how to operationalize" activities for self-X-based operations, which includes hiding the inner workings of domains (autonomous domains) based on concepts like closed-loop management of goals and objectives (intent). These concepts include the shift from pure "human-run" activities to "non-human-run" activities. The activities (defined by eTOM) still exist, of course, the functions in ODA still exist, but instead of them done by humans, AN provides a levels roadmap to reduce the burden on humans doing these activities.

    In the analogy of the autonomous car, there will still be driving management, route management, braking, accelerating, turning, etc. These activities are foundational to commute from one place to the other. However, to achieve the goal of driving, the human is either partially or no more required.



    Emmanuel A. Otchere
    Chief Technical Expert & VP - Architecture, Standards & Industry Dev.
    Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd

  • 2.  RE: Relationship between ODA, eTOM and Autonmous Networks

    TM Forum Member
    Posted Jul 12, 2021 07:05
    Think some of this material could be used in the General ODA EA discussions to set out where eTOM SID  sit within ODA EA 

    The other area we could pick some of this  this material and thinking in in the ODA e2E program and specifically and material  being developed in:
    IGxxxx Transforming classical BSS systems to ODA Compliant ecosystem - Open Digital Architecture Project - TM Forum Confluence

    Specifically the ODA AN relationship  that is mentioned 

    Dave Milham
    TM Forum, Chief Architect

  • 3.  RE: Relationship between ODA, eTOM and Autonmous Networks

    TM Forum Member
    Posted Jul 12, 2021 14:38
    Yes, this could be a great example of BSS to ODA transformation looking towards future tech.  Ideally, we would want an example of transforming BSS to ODA that would benefit existing tech/products too.

    I am a fan of the "meta-architecture" concept and the exercise to compare and contrast.

    Greg Herringer
    IBM Corporation

  • 4.  RE: Relationship between ODA, eTOM and Autonmous Networks

    TM Forum Member
    Posted Jul 13, 2021 03:55
    I think is important to remind ourself that Frameworx is guided start and not a standard. I would be surprised if any company embark on transformation to become like all others. It becomes useless to start at eTom, SID or ODA level to transform. Transformation has to start on business level also for technical deployments. TM forum provides lot of good stuff but only effective when used as guide towards overarching business objectives and amended and added to on an individual basis and not used as prescriptions!

    Cato Rasmussen