& cplSiteName &

White Box Networking: It's Not About Cost

Mitch Wagner
11/18/2015
50%
50%

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- White Box Strategies for CSPs -- While reducing capex and opex grabs headlines, that's not the main reason for the transition to white box networking.

Differentiation, rather than reduced cost, is the prime motivation for communications service providers to transition from proprietary networking gear to white boxes, said James Sun, president, CEO and co-founder of Centec Networks (Su Zhou) Co. Ltd. , speaking on a panel here Tuesday.

Chloe Jian Ma, senior director, cloud market development, Mellanox Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: MLNX), agreed. The main motivation for moving to white box networking is to provide flexibility, customization and choice.

White box networking comes from recreational roots; gaming enthusiasts pioneered white box development for PCs, Ma said. Gamers wanted to get the highest quality components rather than the cheapest components. Now, we're seeing a similar trend for white box switches, driven by more serious, business goals, as service providers look to build a custom infrastructure based on their own specs to run optimally for their own applications and meet the demands of the New IP.

Flexibility & Differentiation
AT&T's Ken Duell, Mellanox's Chloe Jian Ma, Pica8's Steve Garrison, Centec's James Sun, and Brocade's Michael Bushong (l-r)
AT&T's Ken Duell, Mellanox's Chloe Jian Ma, Pica8's Steve Garrison, Centec's James Sun, and Brocade's Michael Bushong (l-r)

Over time, white box servers will help drive CSPs to become "platform service providers" rather than simply providing communications, Ashish Singh, SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM) GM/VP products, said. Comms will open their network and resources and build their own services on the platform, while also letting partners build services as well.

Ken Duell, AVP of New Technology Product Development & Engineering, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), speaking on a panel on white box switches later in the morning, agreed. "When we open up our network, customers come up with things we never even thought of," he said.

While SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM) is looking to white box servers to manage capex, it also wants to provide specialized capabilities through white box, said Ashish Singh, SK Telecom's GM/VP of products. The carrier is looking to white box servers as part of a strategy to build "mini-modular data centers" for services at the edge to serve mobile computing needs, rather than sending data to a centralized data center.

The goal is to move intelligence closer to the edge of the network, to enable improved reliability, data protection and end-to-end encryption, Singh said.

Close to the Edge
SK Telecom's Ashish Singh and Intel's Bob Ghaffari (l-r)
SK Telecom's Ashish Singh and Intel's Bob Ghaffari (l-r)

The technology to deliver white box servers to service providers is here today, but the transition is slow. Operators are deploying white box servers where there is "low hanging fruit" of services that provide value to customers, such as SD-WAN, or offering 30- and 60-day trials to customers of new services, said Bob Ghaffari, director, enterprise and appliances, data center/network platforms group, Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC)

In many cases, telcos will need to develop their own specifications for white box servers, differentiated from enterprise specs, and also differentiated from the Open Compute Project led by Facebook . But rather than launching another standards body, carriers can use what's applicable from OCP and fork a new branch if necessary. "My personal preference will be to take that kind of direction rather than spinning out a new industry body," Singh said.


Want to know more about white boxes? Visit Light Reading's white box content channel.


One member of the audience said during Q&A that the top three communications service providers in a few years will be Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. Hyperscale will drive the industry in the future, the audience member said.

Light Reading Editor-at-Large Carol Wilson, moderating the panel, directed the response to Duell. "I assume AT&T isn't going to quietly go away," she said.

Duell agreed. "You can bet your cup of coffee -- we're going to compete. I bet we're going to succeed as well," he said.

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to wagner@lightreading.com.

(7)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
ajwdct
50%
50%
ajwdct,
User Rank: Light Beer
11/23/2015 | 9:19:17 PM
Re: OPEX Savings or Problems? + Conference Summary
Thanks Mitch, but I maintain OPEX will be a critical issue for deploying white boxes in a production/live network.  They won't be as reliable as typical carrier class network equipment and the hardware/software are from different vendors leading to a systems integration/fault isolation/finger pointing problem which will increase OPEX.

Another issue raised by an IEEE member who commented on the community.comsoc.org website article I posted was "interoperability standards."  I replied that issue was being solved by open source consortiums, rather than ITU-T or other recognized standards body.

 
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
11/23/2015 | 10:21:11 AM
Re: OPEX Savings or Problems? + Conference Summary
Hi, ajwdct - It's an issue, but it's not the reason to make the change. I've seen estimates that network operators who change to virtualization won't see savings in the first year or two, because the change itself incurs costs. 
ajwdct
50%
50%
ajwdct,
User Rank: Light Beer
11/22/2015 | 8:24:47 PM
OPEX Savings or Problems? + Conference Summary
I continue to believe that OPEX will be a key issue for white box networking.  Issues include: hardware/software integration, fault isolation and repair (fail-over and problem resolution), restoration/re-routing around failures or congested network nodes, integration with OSS/BSS, upgrades/updates to software which cause problems with other functions, etc.

Here's my conference summary: 

http://community.comsoc.org/blogs/alanweissberger/highlights-light-readings-white-box-strategies-communications-service-provider

 
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
11/19/2015 | 5:18:09 PM
Re: Open is about speed
It's more apparent in the cable space: Companies like Netflix and Amazon Prime are obviously in the video business. 

Cable providers have an advantage there, though -- cord-cutting consumers need to buy their bandwidth from somewhere, and it's likely to be the same companies from whom they're no longer buying video content. 
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
11/19/2015 | 5:15:25 PM
Re: Bet a cup of coffee? This is serious...
I agree that AT&T is likely to be a surviror. Which Tier 1 providers are likely to go down? Which smaller providers are likely to move to the head of the pack? I wonder.
Ray@LR
50%
50%
Ray@LR,
User Rank: Blogger
11/18/2015 | 10:58:23 AM
Bet a cup of coffee? This is serious...
If AT&T's Duell is prepared to bet his cup of coffee that the telco will still be a top tier comms services player in the future, then that's real committment... but AT&T (and others) will need to move even more quickly if he's not to relinquish his daily espresso quota to the Web-scalers...  
msilbey
100%
0%
msilbey,
User Rank: Blogger
11/18/2015 | 8:28:41 AM
Open is about speed
It's the same thing we're hearing in the cable space. Opening the technology up is about increasing the speed of innovation. Iterate constantly to continue adding value.
From The Founder
Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
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
CenturyLink: Are We All Security Service Providers Now?

5|29|17   |   3:40   |   (2) comments


As the security environment gets more threatening, in the wake of WannaCry and other attacks, service providers need to shoulder more responsibility for securing networks, says Tim Kelleher, vice president for IT security services at CenturyLink, in an interview at the Light Reading Big Communications ...
LRTV Documentaries
Verizon's Ed Chan on the New World for Networks

5|29|17   |   19:08   |   (0) comments


In this 2017 Big Communications Event keynote, Ed Chan Senior Vice President, Technology, Strategy and Planning, Corporate Networking and Technology, Verizon, discusses the coming world of sensors and the smart edge, powered by new spectrum and faster fiber uploads. For more BCE coverage and videos,
LRTV Interviews
Zayo's CTO: Respect the Infrastructure!

5|29|17   |   3:04   |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's Big Communications Event in Austin, Texas, Zayo's CTO Jack Waters talked about infrastructure and the changing customer landscape for network providers. While everyone else is chatting up applications and services, Waters urges the industry not to downplay the role that ...
LRTV Interviews
AT&T: Creating Dynamic Networks to Meet Business Needs

5|26|17   |   4:24   |   (0) comments


As enterprises need more dynamic networks, service providers need to deliver on-demand, virtual services to meet those needs. AT&T is creating a networking fabric to mix-and-match SDN technologies for enterprise customers, says Roman Pacewicz, AT&T senior vice president for offer management and service integration, in an interview at Light Reading's
LRTV Interviews
EdgeConneX on Industry Headwinds & Tailwinds

5|26|17   |   2:41   |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's Big Communications Event 2017, EdgeConneX CTO Don MacNeil discussed the value of partnerships in the digital world.
LRTV Documentaries
4 Steps Toward a Higher Network IQ

5|26|17   |     |   (0) comments


At the Big Communications Event in Austin, Texas, EXFO CEO Philippe Morin explains how sensors and analytics can boost a network's intelligence and enable on-demand customer experiences. Find more BCE 2017 coverage here.
LRTV Interviews
BT's McRae Sheds Light on 4K Strategy

5|25|17   |   4:45   |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's Big Communications Event 2017 in Austin, Texas, BT Group's Chief Network Architect Neil McRae talks about what it took for BT to broadcast live sports in 4K. Catch up with all our BCE coverage at http://www.lightreading.com/bce.asp.
From the Founder
How the NIA Aims to Advance NFV

5|25|17   |   08:07   |   (1) comment


Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
LRTV Custom TV
Better Solutions That Address Growing Scale

5|25|17   |     |   (0) comments


For Comcast, the X1 rollout and 17-fold increases in broadband speeds in the past 16 years are among factors driving the need for Energy 2020 solutions that reduce cost and consumption, says Mark Hess.
LRTV Custom TV
Ethernity Network Delivers Instant Offloading of Network Functions With All-Programmable Intelligent NIC

5|25|17   |     |   (0) comments


David Levi, CEO of Ethernity Networks, explains that programmability of the hardware makes the company's All-Programmable Intelligent NIC uniquely beneficial for communications service providers that need advanced data appliances with agile support of virtualization. Utilizing the company's patented network processing technology, Ethernity offers data path ...
LRTV Documentaries
BCE 2017: Vodafone Gets Obsessed With Cloud-Native

5|25|17   |     |   (0) comments


Vodafone's Matt Beal updates us on Project Ocean and explains why simple virtualization isn't enough of a goal for network transformation. Catch up with other BCE 2017 keynotes and news at http://www.lightreading.com/bce.asp.
LRTV Documentaries
BCE 2017: Intel's Take on Network Transformation

5|24|17   |     |   (0) comments


In this BCE 2017 keynote, Lynn Comp discusses Intel's vision for areas such as analytics, automation and service assurance. For more videos and BCE coverage, see http://www.lightreading.com/bce.asp.
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Cities Clamor for More Clout at FCC
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/23/2017
Sonus & Genband Finally Combine to Form $745M Company
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 5/23/2017
NB-IoT? Not at Those Prices, Say DT Customers
Iain Morris, News Editor, 5/26/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
One of the nice bits of my job (other than the teeny tiny salary, obviously) is that I get to pick and choose who I interview for this slot on the Light Reading home ...
TEOCO Founder and CEO Atul Jain talks to Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the challenges around cost control and service monetization in the mobile and IoT sectors.
Animals with Phones
What Brogrammers Look Like to the Rest of Us Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.