BURLINGAME, Calif. -- OPNFV Summit -- Do you think proprietary technology, backed by a known vendor, is the safe choice? Do you think open source is riskier?
The average lifespan of a corporation today is 15 years, compared with 60 years in 1960, said Margaret Chiosi, distinguished network architect, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) Labs, speaking at a panel here on Wednesday.
So the vendor that you trust to support your essential networking technology might not be around in a few years. You might be better off adopting open source, and getting involved in the development community, to share ownership of the technology you rely on and achieve agility required by the New IP economy.
"We have to take back the development," Chiosi said.
That will be a case of history repeating itself for telcos, which in decades past had large R&D labs -- including AT&T Bell Labs -- to develop new technologies, Chiosi notes. Carriers used iterative development and DevOps methodologies, even if they weren't known by that name.
More recently, AT&T outsourced development, but the company is now bringing development in-house. "Because of the original Bell Systems days, we actually have a good strong base," Chiosi said. Another fortunate development for AT&T is that, after recent acquisitions, the carrier has developers on-staff who worked on the original SDN controllers and other fundamental technologies.
Innovation often requires external recruitment, but when doing so it's important to recruit new ideas, not just people, said Hal Stern, executive director for applied technology at pharmaceuticals giant Merck. "If you bring in people who think about things the same way as you, you get the same solutions to problems," he said.
Recruiting people to work on infrastructure projects can be challenging, because those are often perceived as boring. "How do you celebrate it," Stern said. "How do you make it cool to do? The blinking lights are far more interesting."
SDN specialist Lucera contributes to many open source projects, but keeps the company name out of it, CEO Jacob Loveless said. The company looks to recruit from the open source community.
Having the right mission attracts talent, Loveless said. "It's always been the mission for me. If you have the right mission, and lack of nonsense for people executing on that mission, the right engineers will come find you," he said.
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