NFV Specs/Open Source

SlideshowAn Intimate View: Standards vs. Open Source

OPNFV Director Heather Kirksey

mhhf1ve 8/6/2015 | 7:04:01 PM
Open source is no silver bullet... I don't think too many people think Open Source is a magical answer for everything... but it can help with getting some things developed faster by reducing re-invention of the wheel here and there.

There will never be a single solution that fits every use case.
brooks7 7/23/2015 | 8:39:37 PM
Re: Understanding industry requirements and Open Source solutions No - every product in every carrier will have different open source.

Go look at IT - when something new comes up it spawns dozens of Open Source (OS) Projects.  5 - 10 years later there are only 2 or 3 (like say Debian versus Red Hat versus Unbuntu + there are others).  The rest are abandoned.

The way that OS works in IT is that they all use 2 things:

- Standards and;

- APIs

Without Standards like HTLM5 or DNS or XML or SQL then you can't develop effective APIs and standard interfaces.

So - OS does not eliminate standards - it makes them infinitely more important.  

It is faster to build products based on Open Source.  I know - I have done it.  In fact the product could be defined as NFV (as we virtualized a network function and spawned new ones when we wanted to) and SDN (although we built our network on an overlay IP VPN).

What it DOESN'T do is streamline the process of getting standards adopted and interoperability assured.  And then remember you have to test every new version of every OS package that you include.  The big chunky stuff that you would want - say a Web Server - nobody has to write from scratch.  But there is a huge challenge on systems integration and testing.

So, in my view OS is irrelevant to standardization timelines.  Standardization, Integration and Testing are very important.  How many NFV OS projects are out there?  How many people will ignore them and just do what is already done in IT (as this is a solved problem in the IT domain)?  What do you do when there is an interoperability challenge between OS projects?

So - my view - with the experience of the last 15 years of the Enterprise IT world is that OS does not make standardization faster.  What is does do is eliminate the need for SW engineers to write major code elements - except when they are writing for competing OS projects.


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cnwedit 7/23/2015 | 4:36:18 PM
Re: Understanding industry requirements and Open Source solutions Okay, I admit I'm not entirely following what you are saying there - do you mean each operator winds up with a different "open source" version of NFV and SDN? If so, that's not at all what I'm saying.

I'm talking about what exists today and how you get from what exists today to a more flexible, scalable infrastructure that is software-driven, and uses mostly - not purely, but primarily - commercial off-the-shelf hardware instead of purpose-built telecom gear and builds intelligence into the software layers that can be more easily updated and changed.

And yes, I know there's a lot more to it than that. But the open source approach that Heather describes is a faster way of getting the industry to agree of what it needs to agree on, and differentiate on the rest as it chooses. 
brooks7 7/23/2015 | 4:32:11 PM
Re: Understanding industry requirements and Open Source solutions I disagree with that set of comments Carol.

You would have to make an assumption that either you are running with a "standard" api that EVERYBODY uses (like say HTML5 - which is a standard) or that ALL products that you use have the exact same version (unedited) of the exact same Open Source Product for that category.  Otherwise you don't have the API (interface) standardization that allows two disparate systems work together that were developed independently.  Assume every product in the network uses as different NFV and SDN set of Open Source.  You end up having to have standards to make them work together.


cnwedit 7/23/2015 | 2:49:33 PM
Re: Understanding industry requirements and Open Source solutions Interesting comment, Robin. The diversity of what's already deployed is definitely what makes technology transitions like this one so challenging, and standards work as well. It's one of the things that open source and the agile methods of developing software seem well-suited to address. 
Robin Mersh 7/23/2015 | 2:11:00 PM
Understanding industry requirements and Open Source solutions I really appreciate Heather (and Light Reading) highlighting the issues around standards development and Open Source development. I have known Heather for quite some time and I really value her insight.

It is certainly true that we are moving to more programmable, adaptable and software defined networks. Developing solutions with more agility is paramount. The old paradigm of standards, where the 'perfect' solution trumped the speed of delivery is receding.

It is also true that there is still a lot of diversity in deployed networks. This is due to a number of factors, earlier technology decisions, the competitive landscape and the regulatory environment.

Developing effective solutions needs a clear understanding of requirements, and that does take discussion and agreement.  

I think we should welcome the disruption to standards from software driven solutions and openly collaborate.
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