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Chiosi: Open Source Necessary, Not Sufficient

Carol Wilson
4/6/2017
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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.

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


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kq4ym
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kq4ym,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/24/2017 | 11:35:07 AM
Re: Many eyes -- NOT many committees
It does indeed seem entirely logical that the missing pieces will have to be filled in. Taking as a given "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," will be the path for the next few years as open sources groups provide those APIs and frameworks. 
Ali.Kafel
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Ali.Kafel,
User Rank: Light Beer
4/8/2017 | 8:44:20 AM
Don't confuse Open Source PROJECTS with Open Source PRODUCTS
Many people don't realize that there is a major difference between open source PROJECTS and open soure PRODUCTS. Margaret is right that "open source PROJECTS are necessary, but not enough" - I wish that was the title of this article and that is what she meant

Here is a great article that goes into details on the difference and how we at Red Hat see this

https://www.redhat.com/en/about/blog/what-makes-us-red-hat

For those that don't have the time to read the whole article, let me summarize with excerpts and some paraphrasing from the above article

Open source PROJECTS are hotbeds of innovation and thrive on constant change. These projects are where sometimes constant change happens and where the development is done. Enterprise customers value this innovation, but they also rely on stability and long-term support that a PRODUCT can give. The stable, supported foundation of a PRODUCT is what then enables those customers to deliver their own innovations and serve their own customers.

Taking an open source PROJECT as a base to create solutions, rather than an open source PRODUCT will end up delivering solutions that lack the stability, reliability, scalability, compatibility and all the other "ilities" or non-functional requirements that enterprise customers rely on to run their mission-critical applications.  This is not good.

At Red Hat, we significantly contribute to these PROJECTS and create commercial PRODUCTS based on a integration of various appropriate PROJECTS. The PRODUCTS are stabilized, tested and are provided to our supported customer as 100% open source. Even when we acquire a proprietary software company, we commit to releasing all of its code as open source. 

This model translates to our knowledge, leadership and influence in the communities we participate in and to providing 100% open source products to our Telco and Enterprise customers. We believe core PRODUCTs need to be 100% open source to keep up with innovation and agility!

 
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/7/2017 | 12:15:16 PM
Re: Security concerns
I too would be interested in the rebuttals (usually lackluster) to the notion that "many eyes" means "good eyes" when it comes to InfoSec.

(This is not, of course, to say that open source is worse, inherently.  But inherently better?  I remain unconvinced of that notion.  I think it's just different.)
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/7/2017 | 12:13:40 PM
Many eyes -- NOT many committees
Considering that these open-source bodies operate much the same way that proprietary software-development commitees do, I find it hard to not agree with Chiosi on this point.

After all, an open standard is worthless if there are 17 other ones to choose from.
Kelsey Ziser
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Kelsey Ziser,
User Rank: Blogger
4/6/2017 | 1:22:54 PM
Security concerns
Did Chiosi and/or Parulkar speak at all to security concerns over open source software?
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