OPNFV Summit Comes at Critical Time

Carol Wilson
News Analysis
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large
6/9/2017



The Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) holds its annual summit in Beijing next week, and as this particular open source effort moves closer to commercial deployment, both vendors and other open source organizations are factoring heavily into the agenda. (See Telcos Digging In on Open Source NFV and OPNFV's Danube Dubbed 'Milestone' Release.)

The four-day event kicks off with OPNFV Project's Design Summit, for the developer community to push forward on Euphrates, the next OPNFV release. But those first two days also include mini-summits for the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP), OpenDaylight, DPDK, FD.io and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, as well as its own mini-summit on data plane and VNF acceleration.

The event comes at an interesting time in the open source world, as debate rages on a few issues, including the commercial viability of open source and how it goes to market, and the way in which open source is being embraced by the carrier community. There is also much more discussion around how open source groups work together, versus duplicating work or working at cross purposes.

OPNFV Director Heather Kirksey sees significant progress on the service provider front, as network operators "are engaging in open source in the right way now," she says in an interview. Instead of showing up in large numbers with lists of demands or problems that need solving, "they are at the table working, contributing code and addressing problems."

She points to AT&T's "Nirvana stack" -- something it discussed at the Open Networking Summit -- as an example of how open source is becoming a critical element of the telecom carrier's work. Having initially used Juniper Contrail SDN controllers in its AT&T Integrated Cloud, the network operator is now looking at an open source ODL-based controller, to sit between OpenStack and FD.io, all running on an OPNFV platform.

OPNFV has, from its outset, worked in collaboration with other groups and upstreamed code whenever possible, Kirksey says, and next week's summit reflects some of that cooperation.

There is also significant vendor participation in the summit -- executives from Ericsson, HPE, Huawei, Intel, Nokia, Red Hat, NEC and ZTE are among the speakers, with Huawei, HPE and Ericsson stepping up as major sponsors.

That might lead to interesting conversations around the commercialization challenges that are increasingly common in the open source world, with more vendors being willing to admit they are discouraged by the business models emerging and the pressure they face to share their code. (See Facebook Takes TIP in New Direction as Investors Doubt Open Source Payback and Open Sores: Are Telcos on a Collision Course With Vendors?)

Kirksey also sees a critical shift needed on the people and processes side -- something she admits the Telecom Infra Project is addressing more head-on, with a new working project to address the cultural changes needed within telecom to enable more rapid innovation. (See Facebook Feeds Bandwidth-Hungry Users.)

"Within OPNFV itself, and working with other open source groups, we've had a big focus for us on what it means to have a healthy open source culture, what it means to be effective," she says. "In terms of what TIP does, it's their people and processes group. I think it is really interesting, it never would have dawned on me to take that on as a task within an open source group. But we focus on it a lot when we are building our own culture, hoping that will create seeds."

On the technical side, there will be discussion and demonstrations around OPNFV and OpenStack working together, and a virtualized Central Office demo. In addition, the OPNFV Summit will dig into issues around being "cloud native," to include a CNCF event, sponsored by Red Hat, that is "a day-long presentation on cloud-native application development," structured to specifically show how to take a piece of equipment and transform it into a cloud-native app, Kirksey says.

As the third OPNFV Summit and the first held in China, the event will feature many Chinese operators including China Mobile, China Telecom and Didi Chuxing, the Chinese version of Uber.

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


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