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It's Showtime for OPEN-O

Robert Clark
News Analysis
Robert Clark
11/3/2016

WUZHEN, China -- Operations Transformation Summit 2016 -- It's showtime for one of the telecom industry's open source experiments, with the planned release next week of the first OPEN-O implementation.

OPEN-O is an open source orchestration group supported by the Linux Foundation and well backed by Chinese telcos and vendors. (See OPEN-O Going Beyond the MANO.)

But the initial software will be put to use by just three operators -- China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL), China Telecom Corp. Ltd. (NYSE: CHA) and HKT Ltd. .

Joe Hou, director of strategy and architecture in Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. 's Global Technical Service division and an OPEN-O board member, acknowledged that much depends on the success of these early implementations.

"We will try to have more operators join," he said, but for the time being most would be watching from the sidelines.

OPEN-O estimates it can cut implementation time from two or three years to one and a half years. "No matter if operators use the open source approach or the traditional approach, they will still need the components in their network," Hou told reporters.

In turn, the new architecture is aimed at helping telcos shorten time-to-market for new service provisioning from an average of between six and eight weeks to just one week.

One problem is that OPEN-O is not the only open source group. Open Source MANO (OSM), under ETSI, covers much of the same ground, although Hou insists they are not in competition. OSM is focused on MANO and NFV, whereas OPEN-O covers cloud and the data center as well, he says.

But the intention is to be "very fair," he adds. "If an operator thinks one is more attractive to them, they have the choice to join that community," he says.


For more NFV-related coverage and insights, check out our dedicated NFV content channel here on Light Reading.


Hou argues that open source is a more efficient way of building a standard than the traditional organization-driven process. Effectively, it's real-time, continuous standards development.

"The code is the de facto standard," he says. "It is also a standard but it's not on paper -- it is code."

It promises a faster and more efficient process for vendors, too. Usually in standards development, Huawei has to talk to its customers separately to grasp their requirements. But in an open source environment it can speak to all of the operators at the same time to more quickly define their needs.

Hou says the OPEN-O first release has taken about seven months to develop. The second release, due in the middle of 2017, should take about six months and the third release about four or five months.

He agrees it was surprising to see state-owned firms like China Mobile embrace open source, but observes that it's also a sign of the scale of the problems they face.

— Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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