DUSSELDORF -- SDN & Openflow World Congress -- BT is threatening to abandon OpenStack in favor of a proprietary technology during its rollout of virtual enterprise services unless vendors backing the standard can overcome six potential technology showstoppers.
Such a move by the UK fixed-line incumbent could be a major setback for OpenStack, an open standard that is being touted as one of the key technologies underpinning NFV.
BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA)'s concern relates to the use of OpenStack with virtual enterprise CPEs, whereby servers are distributed around the edge of the network and on customer premises.
Peter Willis, BT's chief researcher for data networks, acknowledges that OpenStack has major attractions as set of open source tools, with backing from some of the world's biggest IT companies, but says the technology still holds a number of risks for an operator rolling out virtual enterprise CPEs.
Unless the OpenStack community can address a number of serious challenges, BT will look to use an alternative technology.
Those challenges relate to the connection of virtual network functions (VNFs), service chain modification, scalability, so-called "start-up storms," the security of OpenStack over the Internet and backwards compatibility.
"If these six issues are not addressed we will not use OpenStack for virtual enterprise," he told attendees here in Dusseldorf. "There are proprietary solutions out there we could use and we will use them in lieu of OpenStack being available."
Willis revealed that some of the most important OpenStack stakeholders -- including HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ), Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT), Canonical, Mirantis Inc. and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) -- have agreed there are problems but have not yet reached a consensus on how to address them.
Although BT could opt for a proprietary technology in the short term and introduce OpenStack at a later stage, this will become more difficult as services are rolled out.
"It's a strategic migration issue," says Willis. "It's easy to start off greenfield because we've not deployed any large numbers of virtual enterprise CPEs but in two or three years there will be more legacy."
Next page: The six challenges