As the Code Flows...

For those who weren't distracted by all the Facebook fanfare at Mobile World Congress, the real news coming out of that event was that there were now two seemingly competing groups vying to develop an open source approach to network management and orchestration of network functions virtualization, what the industry commonly calls the MANO. (See OSM Demos First Steps to Open Source MANO and OPEN-O Focused on Orchestrating SDN & NFV. )

I, for one, was all set to cover this new, somewhat exciting angle to an ongoing, somewhat complex, story, even though it means wading deep into the weeds of the discussion. Then last week, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) offered to open source its ECOMP -- Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy -- software, which is its vision for automating network management and services in the virtualized world. And that seemed to raise the stakes further. (See AT&T Shares ECOMP Vision, Might Share Software.)

And I wasn't the only one viewing things through this lens: At last week's Open Networking Summit, one of the first questions posed to representatives of the OPEN-Orchestrator Project (OPEN-O) initiative, launched by China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL) and China Telecom USA under the Linux Foundation auspices, was on whether it is competing with Open Source MANO, the European organization. Perfect, I thought, rubbing my hands together in eager anticipation, now it's time to rumble. Let the trash talk begin!

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This being ONS, however, and not the National Hockey League (sadly), what I got instead was a large dose of Jim Zemlin, Linux Foundation executive director, who waded into the debate like the big kid on the block, shutting down the third-graders' skirmish.

"Both of these [initiatives] are very young," Zemlin said. "I haven't had enough time to review how the OSM organization is structured in terms of licensing regime. But I suspect the licensing regimes are reasonably compatible and if they are not, we should be able to pick an IP [intellectual property] license that allows code to flow back and forth."

In other words, let's move this out of the schoolyard and get it into the hands of the lawyers to resolve.

Zemlin further downplayed the drama around having multiple groups working on the same issue, saying that wasn't at all uncommon, and, in the Linux Foundation's 25-year history, it has learned how to handle such challenges.

At least I think that's what he said. I may have dosed off for a few seconds, once the conversation turned to org structure, licensing and IP. I know he concluded with: "It's not horrible to have two efforts."

Of course, "not horrible" is not the same thing as "great idea," but clearly the Linux Foundation is in the business of fostering collaboration. In his brief comments, Zemlin also managed to mention multiple other organizations with which his group is working, including the MEF and European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) , to figure out what needs to be standardized in terms of interfaces and get that work done.

So, basically, all the joy has been sucked out of this particular little tech skirmish. I'll have to exercise my competitive fervor in March Madness and the soon-to-arrive Stanley Cup playoffs. Unless, of course, AT&T's ECOMP move regenerates some excitement... Stay tuned on that front, folks!

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

Mitch Wagner 3/21/2016 | 12:39:18 PM
SDN controllers I asked Guru Palankhar of ON.Lab, which leads ONOS development, about the possible conflict between ONOS and OpenDaylight. He said it's perfectly reasonable to have two different projects with similar goals. Vendors will often have multiple lines of routers and switches, for example. 

And there are more than 500 different Linux distros, and Linux is doing just fine. 
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