Yesterday, I promised more key takeaways from the Open Networking Summit and here they are. Read 'em and comment:
Papa sang bass, mama sang tenor: If having "harmonize" in the tag line of ONS wasn't enough of a clue, almost every speaker talked about the need to harmonize efforts among open source groups, eliminating overlap, and possibly even total duplication between multiple groups at the same level. How that would happen wasn't always clear, just that everyone right up to Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, wants to see it happen.
The one major stroke in that direction was the merger of Open Orchestrator and ECOMP open source into ONAP, something its head honcho, Chris Rice of AT&T, attributes to Linux Foundation leadership and direction. There were also strong indications in the OPNFV Project Danube release of coordination among groups.
And Huawei's Chris Donley, formerly technical steering committee chair of Open-O, noted that the TSC chairs of four Linux-based networking groups were meeting and working together to align efforts around a continuous integration-continuous development tool chain. "So there are opportunities for alignment and working together even if we don't go for a full merger," he said at an ONAP meet-up and reception.
5G is a massive opportunity for open source to get it right. On this point there is no debate or controversy. The network that will be needed to support 5G, including a much denser broadband access network to support millimeter waves and a distributed edge computing network, will be built on next-generation technology that incorporates the best of what the industry can deliver in terms of open source software, commodity hardware and intelligent integration. Speaker after speaker mentioned the transition to 5G as an opportunity for open networking -- and even if they have different goals in mind for how to leverage that opportunity, this is being seen as the greenfield of a lifetime, or at least a generation.
Mind the gap: Two outspoken backers of open source -- Open Networking Foundation's Guru Parulkar and Huawei's Margaret Chiosi -- were also outspoken on this point and no one with whom I spoke wanted to argue. Open source provides key technology and, in many cases, de facto standards, but does not offer the full range of what is required to deliver a product to a network operator. There must be business models that reward vendors for packaging open source in a commercial framework that communications service providers can consume without drifting off into the proprietary or creating vendor lock-in.
communications service providers get in free.
What's that model? Chiosi suggested products that start somewhat closed but evolve to being open or, at minimum, plug and play. Others leaned toward our next key takeaway for the best approach.
Time to don the Red Hat: Folks as diverse as Amdocs' Oren Mamure, MEF 's Pascal Menezes and Verizon's Srini Kalapala specifically invoked Red Hat as the example, with its commercial versions of Linux and OpenStack, as the model for open source deployment in the networking arena.
"The concept of productized hardened carrier-grade versions of open source -- like Red Hat does for the enterprise -- makes sense to us," Mamure said in an interview. "It can provide carrier-grade security, administrative tools, design tools, etc." that builds on open source but also includes committed product roadmaps and other things such as VNF certification and testing.
Network operators have already embraced the notion that open source will be consumed using vendors as distributors, but the business models for that are evolving. And apparently, Red Hat could prove to be the evolution model.
Open source networking has a home at the Linux Foundation: The Linux Foundation was announced as the new home for ONS a year ago and the move was clearly a wise one. Since then it has taken on more new projects in this space and is devoting more of its resource to networking, in addition to more traditional IT open source. The foundation's experience in managing open source groups and bringing diverse players into the process is obviously invaluable.
It doesn't hurt that Zemlin and crew are already talking and actively working to determine how best to work with existing standards bodies to make sure the open source process works in cooperation and not conflict with their efforts. How will that happen and will it work to accelerate standards development without creating unintended consequences? Stay tuned for next year's ONS takeaways on that one.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading
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