& cplSiteName &

Ericsson Balances 'Open' Future, Legacy Past

Carol Wilson
2/10/2014
50%
50%

At last week's OpenDaylight Summit, an event that celebrates open-source and all it implies, Ericsson was walking a bit of a tight rope.

On the one hand, the Swedish telecom giant played a significant role in OpenDaylight as a premium sponsor and is credited with doing significant integration work involved in Hydrogen, the open-source software-defined networking (SDN) controller launched this week.

Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) announced last week it is opening a test lab for Hydrogen in California and has already committed to transitioning away from the SDN controller it developed and has been testing with Telstra Corp. Ltd. (ASX: TLS; NZK: TLS), to adopt Hydrogen at some point in the future. (See Ericsson Launches OpenDaylight Lab and Service Provider SDN Gets Real.)

On the other hand, Ericsson is well aware of the needs of its service provider customers for some level of standardization, at least where things such as network interfaces are concerned, and for ongoing support of legacy equipment and systems, which are highly specialized -- the antithesis of "open."

That's why Don McCullough, director of strategy communications at Ericsson, sees two separate routes within future networks: One will be driven by organizations such as 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) , with specifications and standards; and a second one will follow the more de facto standards approach of the IT world, where open systems are the dominant influence.

"We need to be able to take advantage of the benefits of open systems -- speed, community, and leverage," McCullough says. "Plus a common infrastructure to prevent vendor lock-in. But you can't get those positives without a significant cultural shift."

Cultural shift
He maintains that shift is happening within Ericsson, which has been working on SDN for more than three years, developing its own commercially released controller, even as it contributed code to Hydrogen, in addition to the integration work. As the open-source controller "proves itself in," Ericsson will migrate away from its separate controller fairly quickly, McCullough says, and be in a position to assist its carrier customers with their own migrations to open-source, through its professional services arm.

To be useful, service provider SDN has to be implemented across the network, from the datacenter through the packet-optical transport network and the access network to the customer, and that all has to be orchestrated and managed by a combination of legacy and new systems, to enable the exposure of network services via an applications programming interface (API).

"That can be done today, but the trick is to get the manual processes out of it, so that the provisioning is automated and can be done in flexible fashion," and that's one of the key things on which Ericsson is focused.

It's why McCullough is a little slower to dismiss the need for a standardized northbound interface than are many of those gathered in Santa Clara last week. As he points out, exposing network features and capabilities for use by third-parties or customers has requirements in both directions: Customers need to get the quality of service they expect and will pay for; and the network needs protection as well, so that one customer's activity doesn't degrade the service levels experienced by others. All of that is supposed to happened in the controller. (See Standards Lose Steam as Software Dominates.)

"We are already doing things you would call SDN -- policy control management is an example," he says. "But today that is only used by the operator. The question is, can you expose that to third parties?"

That exposure will require interfaces that are robust and well defined. In the old telecom world that would mean a standard interface. McCullough says in the newer SDN realm, the interfaces may need to be more fluid than in the past and able to change with usage. He doesn't rule out other initiatives to develop such an interface, particularly as service providers move to what is generally called "service chaining" -- tying together virtual appliances in flexible ways to meet specific service or customer requirements.

"Service providers want to be able to define a chain in a flexible, automated way based on the service required and based on the customer. They can do it today manually."

Working on the chaining gang
This is one of the capabilities Ericsson is testing with Telstra -- the ability to flexibly create service chains without routing every customer through an unnecessary process.

McCullough admits, however, that developing new services quickly is not the forte of the telecom network operator, and moving at Internet speeds, as those with IT-oriented DNA are learning to do, is something else that is new to Ericsson's traditional customer base. That is where a greater embrace of open-source technologies and less dependence on a rigid standards process comes back into play.

The trick is getting the balance right between the new, open-source approach that allows de facto standards to evolve, and the network operator's need for more certain standards.

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

(5)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
@mbushong
50%
50%
@mbushong,
User Rank: Moderator
2/11/2014 | 12:19:55 PM
Re: Lone voice?
Open source is particularly effective in platforms and points of control where the value (things the customer actually cares about) is on top. Customers would prefer a common platform (provided it is functional and good enough) if it means they get choice in what runs on top. If there is little differentiating value in the platform itself, then open source means everyone can leverage a common framework. This has the added advantage of keeping resources focused on more difference-making activities. I don't think E/// will have major issues getting people to accept open source. 

Mike Bushong (@mbushong)

Plexxi
brookseven
50%
50%
brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/11/2014 | 11:33:57 AM
Re: Lone voice?
 

Okay, most open source does not go straight into production as a standalone vehicle.  In the vast majority of cases, it requires customization or is only part of the solution.  For example, in our mail filter we use many different pieces of Open Source and stitch them together.  The real advantage of Open Source (in theory) is to save time in development of things that have already been done.

Word of caution.  If you plan to make the function that you are doing with an Open Source partner core to your business, you need to think long and hard.  You are either likely to modify it or wrap it inside some layer of your own.  

Some major chunks of Open Source we used were PowerDNS, PostgresSQL, and Liferay.  In all cases, we had significant internal product development to do to adapt these major chunks of software to our use. Sometimes that was configuration and connecting things.  Sometimes this was fixing bugs (and passing them back to the community).

Yes, in general you can "use" Open Source as a complete product (in some cases).  That is VERY rare.

seven

 
anthony.nima
50%
50%
anthony.nima,
User Rank: Light Beer
2/10/2014 | 11:00:14 PM
Re: Lone voice?
@FakeMitchWagner: I think there is a lot of promise in the field of OpenSource right now. It seems that its not all about IT when it comes to OpenSource. I think the move towards OpenSource is a good one since that opens many gates to many features and the benefits that the customers will gain are endless. The only issue is that there should be 24*7 support services for this if services like telecom are going ahead with OpenSource.
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
2/10/2014 | 5:11:09 PM
Re: Lone voice?
Vendors who adopt open source need to do so while not alienating customers of their properietary technology. Sounds like there's a lot of that driving Ericsson. 
Carol Wilson
50%
50%
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
2/10/2014 | 4:12:32 PM
Lone voice?
Ericsson was one of the few companies talking up a balanced approach to use of open source last week at the OpenDaylight Summit. Of course, that event was courting the open source community, it will be interesting to see if other telecom vendors speak up as well. 
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
NEXT COURSE
Friday, September 30, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit & the Great Migration
Robert Howald, Vice President, Network Architecture, Comcast
UPCOMING COURSE SCHEDULE
Wednesday, October 5, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit & Smart Cities
Joe Kochan, COO & Co-Founder, US Ignite
Friday, October 7, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit & DOCSIS 3.1
Ty Pearman, Director, Access Architecture, Comcast
Wednesday, October 19, 1:00PM EDT
Securing a Virtual World
Rita Marty, Executive Director, Mobility and Cloud Security, Chief Security Office, AT&T
in association with:
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 Custom TV
Flexible Deployment Approaches for the Gigabit Services Evolution

9|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


For many operators, the gigabit evolution begins with the shift from DOCSIS 3.0 to DOCSIS 3.1. But that move represents a change not only in the protocol itself, but in the approach to architecting their entire DOCSIS delivery chain -- from the headend to the outside plant and home gateway components.

Jonathan Ruff, senior director of global technical ...

LRTV Interviews
Level 3 VP: Enterprises Need More for Less

9|29|16   |   05:27   |   (0) comments


Andrew Dugan, Level 3 group vice president of global technology and IT, says enterprises need more bandwidth and they need it faster and with greater security, but they want to spend less, if possible. They are looking to carriers to reduce their network complexity and help protect them from cyberattacks as well.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink: SDN/NFV Pose New Interconnection Possibilities

9|28|16   |   04:37   |   (0) comments


Network operators should develop new APIs and business processes for reselling virtual assets to each other, says CenturyLink's Bill Walker. That will enable them to build digital business portfolios that help them avoid becoming commodity transport providers.
LRTV Interviews
Level 3: Overcoming Terror of Being Supplier, Integrator & Developer

9|28|16   |     |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's NFV & Carrier SDN event in Denver, Travis Ewert of Level 3 Communications said there is terror in becoming supplier, integrator and developer, but it can be overcome and be cost effective.
LRTV Custom TV
Introducing IoT World News

9|27|16   |   01:43   |   (0) comments


Self-driving cars, medical sensors, smart cities... and refrigerators. In order to address the huge scope of IoT, KNect365 has created a unique online community that will help businesses to understand and monetize the opportunities that live within the IoT market. We look forward to welcoming you to IoT World News -- your gateway to a better connected future.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T: Reusable Functions Next NFV Key

9|27|16   |   06:03   |   (0) comments


The next generation of NFV has to break functions down into reusable software chunks, making everything much more cloud-like.
LRTV Interviews
Masergy on Security: Attackers Gaining Upper Hand

9|27|16   |   5:10   |   (2) comments


At Light Reading's NFV & Carrier SDN event in Denver, Ray Watson, vice president of Global Technology at Masergy, says that because of the growth in virtualization, the threat landscape is shifting in favor of the attackers. As a result, service providers need to think beyond just defending the perimeter and take a more holistic approach to security.
LRTV Interviews
Verizon Takes Next Step on Biz Virtualization Journey

9|26|16   |   4:38   |   (2) comments


At September's NFV & Carrier SDN event in Denver, Light Reading sat down with Victoria Lonker, director of Product and New Business Innovation at Verizon, to chat about where the carrier is with delivering virtualized services to business customers.
LRTV Interviews
Global Services: The $40B Face-Off

9|26|16   |   05:53   |   (1) comment


More service providers than ever before are battling it out to win a slice of what is now a $40 billion global communications services pie, explains Ovum Principal Analyst David Molony.
LRTV Documentaries
MEC Congress: The Key Takeaways

9|22|16   |   03:25   |   (3) comments


Three key takeaways from the Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) Congress in Munich, Germany.
Wagner’s Ring
Time to Shut Up About 'Dumb Pipes'

9|22|16   |     |   (19) comments


Service providers can't compete with OTT players. It just isn't in their DNA. Instead, service providers need to embrace what they're good at -- providing reliable, secure connectivity.
Wagner’s Ring
Keeping Your Tech Career Going After 50

9|21|16   |     |   (13) comments


How do you keep your career moving forward when you're past the half-century mark?
Upcoming Live Events
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 1, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
WiCipedia: The Women Helping Women Edition
Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, 9/23/2016
Eurobites: Telefónica Taps Juniper for Network Security
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 9/26/2016
Open Source Getting on My Nerves
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 9/26/2016
Powell Kills the Cable Show
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 9/29/2016
Telstra Sees Quadrupled Data Capacity by 2020
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 9/28/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders and UXP Systems CEO Gemini Waghmare discuss the strategic importance of digital identity for operators in the midst of transformation.
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
There's Nothing Like Missing a Full Minute of Pokémon Go Click Here
Live Digital Audio

A vital part of increasing the number of women in comms is transforming the ways companies can support and empower women. While progressive company policies that support both men and women in achieving work-life balance are a step in the right direction, creating a company culture that supports those policies can at times be more challenging.

During this show, we'll talk to Lynn Comp, Senior Director of Industry and Sales Enabling (ISE) in the Network Platforms Group at Intel, about why those challenges exist and how companies can overcome them. She'll provide insight into how Intel has worked to create a culture that supports work-life balance, and provide steps and guidance for other companies wishing to do the same. We will also leave plenty of time to get your questions answered live on the air.