Ciena Offers Hardened ONOS for Next-Gen Central Office Conversions

Partnership with ON.Lab produces commercially supported open source software to help with transforming central office sites into distributed data centers.

December 16, 2015

3 Min Read
Ciena Offers Hardened ONOS for Next-Gen Central Office Conversions

Ciena has announced what it is calling a commercially hardened version of ON.Lab's Open Networking Operating System (ONOS) controller software, aimed specifically at helping telcos convert their central offices to distributed data centers. Done in collaboration with ON.Lab, the new version would add vendor support and integration to the open source software, for greater deployment confidence.

"With this partnership, Ciena is becoming the Red Hat for ONOS," says veteran analyst Michael Howard of IHS, referring to Red Hat's role in offering the commercial version of the open source Linux operating system. "Carriers don't want to use open source code directly, they want a sizeable, reputable vendor they trust that offers support and maintenance."

Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN) developed its partnership with ON.Lab and the hardened version of ONOS -- which actually comes out in early 2016 -- in response to demand from its telecom service provider customers, says Joe Cumello, VP of marketing at the Blue Planet Division of Ciena.

"We are seeing the commoditization of the CO [central office] infrastructure to data centers," he says, "and ONOS is the network operating system and SDN controller our customers are asking for. While everyone likes that use case, and likes ONOS for that use case, the problem is, if you need a bug fix, service support or maintenance, you can't get that from the open source community. Ciena is standing up to be the backer of a commercially hardened version of ONOS."

Stay up-to-date on data center strategies, including infrastructure, in our data center connectivity section here on Light Reading.

The company is promising not to "fork" ONOS but to feed any changes, enhancements or bug fixes back into the open source project, Cumello adds. "We are not looking to create a proprietary controller," he said. "We are effectively selling a one-year or annual subscription to be the software, professional services, maintenance enhancements and bug fixes behind ONOS."

This is being done under Blue Planet's network orchestration platform, and will be known as Blue Planet ONOS. Blue Planet also supports OpenDaylight and other software controllers, Cumello says, but it is developing this product because that is what its service provider customers are seeking.

ON.Lab has developed a specific application for ONOS, as part of its Central Office Re-Architected as a Data Center (CORD) project, that is working up a head of steam in the industry. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is the leader in the effort at this point, which is designed to help telcos re-architect traditional COs into more flexible data centers that can deliver new services more rapidly. (See AT&T to Show Off Next-Gen Central Office and ONOS Lets Emu Run Free.)

"I think AT&T is on the vanguard with CORD, as most incumbents and many larger competitors want to at least install mini-DCs in their selected COs and eventually go all the way to the CORD vision," Howard says. "This certainly opens the door -- if it wasn't already open -- to AT&T, NTT, SK Telecom and other service providers that are contributing to the directions, use-case focus, architecture, and coding of ONOS. There is an advantage to credible first movers that Ciena Blue Planet is in a position to capture."

Ciena has been engaged with ONOS -- its senior VP and GM of Blue Planet, Mike Hatfield, is on the board of directors of ON.Lab -- but there is nothing exclusive about this partnership, Cumello stresses.

Blue Planet ONOS is targeted for February 2016, 30 days after the next release of ONOS (dubbed Falcon), he says. And it isn't exclusively aimed at the telecom sector -- Cumello expects to see cable headends reconstructed as data centers as well, though the acronym doesn't yet trip off the tongue for that one.

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

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