& cplSiteName &

Telcos Pay Lip Service to Open Source

Carol Wilson
6/3/2014
50%
50%

NICE, France -- TM Forum Live! -- Telecom service providers may acknowledge the value of open source technology, particularly as they adopt virtualization, but they are not entirely ready to embrace it warmly, a panel discussion here revealed.

Five large service providers -- AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), Orange (NYSE: FTE), Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), and Telecom Italia SpA (NYSE: TI) -- were represented on a single panel as part of a pre-conference NFV workshop, and while they agreed on a lot, open source technology didn't get a consensus vote.

At a time when multiple groups are developing open source approaches to key technologies such as SDN, the telecom operators' willingness to adopt the work of the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) and OpenDaylight could indicate the pace at which change will happen. The recent decision by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) NFV Industry Specifications Group to propose an open platform for NFV also reflects shifting attitudes.

But the candid comments by the operator panelists show there is no universal view when it comes to open source.

Jenny Huang, OSS/BSS standards strategist at AT&T, struck the practical view, noting that telecom operators have traditionally equated open source with instability and the inability to scale, but that is changing with the move to cloud-based technologies, which the hosting company can control. Huang credits open source groups with pushing virtualization capabilities forward and enabling the operators to keep vendors moving at a faster pace than they might otherwise have done.

Sprint's Fred Feisullin, senior network architect in the CTO's office, took the "radical" stance, pointing to how open source technologies are enabling over-the-top competitors such as Vine and Instagram to bring services to market quickly.

"Service providers need to become comfortable with open source -- there is too much value that is not being mined," he said. "We have to be more mature in our development of software."

To that end, he said, Sprint is hiring Ph.D. candidates as summer workers to develop software in what he called "the next workforce." Open source software is likely to be embedded in whatever lies down the road, Feisullin noted, even if the ultimate services aren't totally open source based.

Massimo Banzi, senior technical project manager at Telecom Italia, was much more circumspect, pointing to licensing and management problems that invariably crop up where use of open source software in commercial products is concerned.

His comments highlighted the willingness -- or lack of same -- of service providers to make their own contributions to the ongoing development of open source software in the way other participants do. Feisullin urged operators to join in by contributing to the open source community any extensions of the software that aren't core to the company's intellectual property.

But even Banzi admitted there are open source components that are well known and strong and are embedded in his company's solutions.

Nektarios Georgalas, director at the BT-Intel Co-Lab, views open source software as important for enabling faster-to-market delivery of new capabilities and the testing of new ideas more quickly.

"I think a hybrid approach ultimately wins out -- with both free open source software, and paid support of some functions as well," he said. "If we are able to build a business case with 70% cost savings using open source, why not use it?"

Ultimately, it will be a commercial decision, agreed Tayeb Ben Meriem, senior manager at Orange (NYSE: FTE): "We need to assess the system ability of open source with regard to commercial deployment, " he said.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

(5)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
smkinoshita
50%
50%
smkinoshita,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/3/2014 | 5:45:01 PM
Re: No Real Surprises
High career cost for sure, and I find that ironic considering we all know better by now.  First, people tend not to get burned twice.  Secondly, there's people like Steve Jobs who did fail... but he came back quite well, didn't he?

It'd be a little different if we looked for one big failure as a sign of learning and only took multiple, similar failures as a sign of poor judgement.
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
6/3/2014 | 5:37:58 PM
Re: No Real Surprises
There's a high career cost to failing implementing pioneer technology. Maybe higher than the benefit of succeeding. 
smkinoshita
50%
50%
smkinoshita,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/3/2014 | 4:47:43 PM
Re: No Real Surprises
@FakeMitchWagner:  It's still not all that different.  In my experience, companies that try Open Source and fail become examples and make others leary.  Making the switch isn't cheap if it doesn't work, so once burned twice scarred.  

It's still a matter of a lack of positive examples.  I'm pretty sure if a company was able to implement open source in a way that worked for them, the rest would want to know exactly what their situation was and how they implemented it.  I feel that way about most technology, actually -- it never catches on until someone does something amazing with it.
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
6/3/2014 | 3:50:06 PM
Re: No Real Surprises
smkinoshita - The issue of licensing and management are different from what you describe. These aren't companies with a knee-jerk rejection of open source. These are companies that tried it and found it didn't work for them. 

 
smkinoshita
50%
50%
smkinoshita,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/3/2014 | 2:21:56 PM
No Real Surprises
Sounds like similar conversations that were going on all across various businesses several years ago.  Whether it was for replacing Microsoft Office or entire networks, the points were the same -- Open Source was economical but nobody had experience using it in a business environment, so everyone was very cautious.

Same conversations still carrying on today.  It's just in more industustries now.
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Interviews
No Stopping Cable's Ethernet Gains

12|9|16   |     |   (0) comments


Vertical Systems' Erin Dunne explains why US cable operators, which now command a record-high 26% of the Ethernet market, will keep boosting their share.
LRTV Interviews
Fixing IoT Security Is an Ecosystem Challenge

12|9|16   |   05:34   |   (1) comment


Level 3 Communications' Chief Security Officer Dale Drew says service providers, manufacturers and even consumers must combine to halt massive DDoS attacks using IoT devices in botnets. The solution he has in mind includes reputation-based routing by the service provider but also more secure endpoint devices and greater consumer awareness.
LRTV Interviews
Cox Clears $2B in Business Revenue

12|8|16   |     |   (0) comments


Cox's Jeff Breaux discusses how the third-largest US MSO will reach the $2 billion revenue mark this year and plans to hit $3 billion by 2021
LRTV Interviews
Can Cable Climb Upmarket?

12|7|16   |     |   (0) comments


Carol Wilson and Alan Breznick assess cable's prospects for winning more enterprises in a landscape rocked by corporate M&A activity.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
TalkTalk Exec: Find Your North Star at Work

12|7|16   |   3:38   |   (1) comment


Women need to find their purpose, a professional North Star, and create a personal board for themselves, according to Alex Tempest, director of partners at TalkTalk Business.
LRTV Interviews
Verizon: Beware Unknown Unknowns

12|7|16   |   04:58   |   (0) comments


Chris Novak, director of the Verizon Enterprise Solutions Risk Team, explains that enterprises who don't conduct a thorough audit of their assets often leave some things unprotected because they don't know they exist. Many times these unprotected assets are part of corporate M&A activity but left unshielded they can become a hacker's playground, he tells Light ...
LRTV Interviews
ETSI's CTO Talks NFV, 5G & NGP

12|5|16   |   09:45   |   (0) comments


Adrian Scrase, CTO at standards body ETSI, talks about the various initiatives and specifications developments related to NFV, 5G and NGP (next-generation protocols) that will underpin next-gen networks.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Korn Ferry Consultant: How to Find, Cultivate & Be the Best Talent

11|30|16   |   4:10   |   (2) comments


Erin Callaghan, a managing consultant for Korn Ferry Futurestep, shares strategies for companies to improve how they recruit and for women to ensure they don't get lost in the pipeline.
LRTV Custom TV
We Can Make the World More Sustainable

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


GeSI is a global e-Sustainability Initiative organization bringing together 40 big multinational companies around the world. According to GeSI's report, information and communication technology can make the world more sustainable. Luis Neves, chairman of GeSI, shared with us his opinion at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016).
LRTV Custom TV
Finding a New Way to Engage Customers & Drive Revenue

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


Mobile revenues are declining. Digicel, a player in the Caribbean telecommunications/entertainment space, has found a new way to engage customers and drive revenue. John Quinn, CTO of Digicel, shared with us its story at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016)
LRTV Custom TV
Do You Really Need Gigabit Infrastructure?

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


Altibox is the biggest fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) player and the largest provider of video and TV in Norway. They started out with zero customers in 2002. Now they have close to half a million households and companies attached to their FTTH business. Nils Arne, CEO of Altibox shared with us their story and insight on 5G at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016).
LRTV Custom TV
BTís Openreach Strategy & Its Updates in 2016

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


A lot of developments at Openreach this year in terms of strategy and planned investments. Peter Bell, CIO of Openreach BT, shared with us the updates of Openreach at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016).
Upcoming Live Events
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
Cable Nodes Becoming a Choke Point
Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading, 12/5/2016
Consolidated Snaps Up Fairpoint for $1.5B
Iain Morris, News Editor, 12/5/2016
Small Arctic ISP Caches Netflix in New Way
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 12/7/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Eyal Waldman, CEO of Mellanox Technologies, speaks to Steve Saunders, CEO of Light Reading, for an exclusive interview about the 100 GB cable challenge, cybersecurity and much more.
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
Animals with Phones
A Mobile Safari Click Here
Literally.
Latest Comment
Live Digital Audio

Even when there's a strong pipeline of female talent in the comms industry, it tends to leak all the way to the top. McKinsey & Company says women experience pipeline leakage at three primary points: being unable to enter, being stuck in the middle or being locked out of the top. Each pipeline pain point presents its own challenges, but also opportunities to stop the leak. Wireless operator Sprint is making a conscious effort to improve its own pipeline from new recruits to the C-suite, and it wants the rest of the industry to do the same. In this Women in Comms radio show, WiC Board Member and Sprint Vice President of Enterprise Sales Nelly Pitocco will give us her take on the industry's pipeline challenges. Pitocco, who joined Sprint in May and has spent 20 years in the comms industry, will also offer solutions, share how Sprint is tackling the challenge within its own organization and take your questions live on air.