Chiosi: Open Source Necessary, Not Sufficient
SANTA CLARA -- Open Networking Summit 2017 -- Margaret Chiosi has long been an open source advocate, but the former AT&T, now Huawei, executive acknowledged here today that open source by itself is not enough -- and the gap between what it provides and what carrier-class products require is an industry challenge.
"You have all these open source pieces -- they are great initial pieces, but you can't just clean it up and run it, because it's not complete," Chiosi said, in an interview following her keynote presentation here. "The challenge for the industry is how do we get from here to production -- there are a lot of gaps."
Chiosi's comments echo those made earlier in the week by another staunch open source proponent, Guru Parulkar, a founder of ONS and current executive director of the Open Networking Foundation. Parulkar noted the resources gap between what open source can deliver -- code, proofs-of-concept and lab trials -- and the commercialization and hardening processes needed to take products to market. (See Open Source Boom Not Without Challenges.)
Chiosi, who is now vice president of Open Ecosystems in the US with Huawei, cites software-defined networking controllers as one example. There are two open source projects devoted to SDN controllers -- OpenDaylight and ONOS -- and Huawei participates in both, but has created its own controller, taking what it sees as the best of breed from both projects.
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The vendor is then able to respond to specific use cases with controllers for multiple different domains from the cloud to edge sites, the metro and WAN networks, Chiosi said in her keynote. (Chiosi encourages operators to bring these forward to vendors.) For a China Unicom data center interconnection project, Huawei's Agile Controller SDN controllers provide a Layer 3 VPN on-demand interconnection between data centers, alongside another vendor's controller, using common APIs that allowed the two controllers to both manage multiple routers and serve as backup for each other.
And that is the direction she sees things going, with open source groups developing open frameworks and open APIs, and vendors engaging, initially, to provide commercial versions of pieces within that framework that may be mostly or partially closed but will evolve to be more open.
"As each piece evolves from closed to partially open to completely open -- if possible -- operators can start picking best of breeds and mix and match, using common APIs," Chiosi says in the interview. "This is the only way to do all of this. The question is, does the industry -- the end users trying to buy stuff -- will they have the patience to wait as we are trying to create real solutions of open mixed with closed?"
Going forward, the business models will decide whether it's rational to evolve different pieces of the open framework to be 100% open source or not, she says, but as long as there are defined open APIs, at minimum things can be plug-and-play.
Chiosi also added her voice to the growing chorus of folks advocating "harmonization" -- i.e. combining -- of the multiple open source groups within single layers of the network. She admitted that, at one point during her stint at AT&T, she encouraged OpenDaylight and ONOS to both continue operations but now could see the wisdom of a merger -- although she hastened to add that would be the choices of those groups.
"We are looking forward to more consolidation. Huawei is going to be collaborating and working with industry helping us get more efficiency in the open source process," Chiosi concluded.
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