SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Open Networking Summit -- Central Office Re-architected as a Datacenter (CORD) has the potential to give networks the flexibility they need to meet residential and enterprise customers' needs for innovative services, service provider executives said Tuesday.
Representatives of SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM), Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), China Unicom Ltd. (NYSE: CHU) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), along with ON.Lab and vendor partners, outlined their plans to use CORD to enable 5G and other mobile applications, virtual reality, and advanced enterprise and residential services.
CORD is a package of technologies and reference architecture developed by ON.Lab and vendor and carrier partners to -- as the name says -- re-architect vertically integrated, proprietary central offices to function more like data centers, with commodity, modular components. (See CORD Connecting as ONOS Expands.)
In traditional central offices, equipment is tightly integrated, with servers interconnected by a spine-leaf fabric and routers and firewalls facing the WAN, said AT&T's Tom Anschutz, distinguished member of the technical staff, AT&T.
"We treat them as something special. We treat them like pets," Anschutz said. "They get special names, they get coddling, they get a lot of attention." If service provider networks are to scale out, they have to stop thinking of equipment that way.
To meet future networking needs, I/O devices for WAN interfaces must be more like white boxes, Anschutz said. Instead of putting networking equipment at the "pinnacle" of the architecture, the devices should be attached to the fabric as with compute and storage, to enable scaling outward.
That architecture enables hashing traffic from the WAN link, into the CORD through the fabric, and back out to the WAN link again. That enables high availability, with multiple paths through the fabric. WAN links can exceed the capacity of individual threads within the fabric, for high-speed interfaces. White boxes can made more intelligent to mimic what came before, with control planes and management planes running as VMs.
"Lastly, we're no longer treating these things like pets. They're being treated like cattle," Anschutz said. "They're commodity items. If one of them fails, you fail them over, you don't rush to fix it as fast as you can."
But turning hardware into cattle isn't enough, said Larry Peterson, chief architect, Open Networking Lab. "We understand what it means to turn hardware into cattle. but we also need to turn software into cattle -- if we can," he said. Network operators need to stop being legacy focused, and instead focus on the future, building software into services. "The phrase 'everything is a services' is key," he said.
"CORD is a platform," Peterson said. "And on that platform we can build residential configuration and we can also build mobile and enterprise services."
ON.Lab and its partners are building a reference implementation for an open virtualized service delivery platform that provides cloud economics and agility. It will include a hardware blueprint based on Open Compute Project designs, including switches and blades, assembly instructions and testing infrastructure. On the software side, core components include OpenStack, Docker, ONOS, and XOS, access services, as well as monitoring and other services.
Next page: Putting it into practice