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Cloud Native Group Wants Telecom Input

Carol Wilson
6/6/2016

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation is looking for a few good telecom operators to join the user group and help design the roadmaps needed for deploying container technology to enable applications and services.

As part of a broader expansion that includes a new executive director in Dan Kohn and new projects, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation wants to expand its end-user board which now counts AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Goldman Sachs and eBay Inc. (Nasdaq: EBAY) as its members. Kohn, who has telecom roots and both Internet and applications experience as an entrepreneur, sees the telecom sector as a natural area of growth, given growing interest in container technology as a means of creating applications more quickly. (See CNCF Names Kohn as Executive Director and Cloud Native Computing Foundation Announces New Members, Begins Accepting Technical Contributions.)

"I want to see a lot more engagement, particularly from the telecom space to see what their requirements are, see what is working and what's not," he says. Kohn was part of Craig McCaw's companies including his cellular operation, Teledesic and XO Communications, but also is a serial entrepreneur with an Internet company, a DSL equipment maker, an automotive GPS device maker and an email application designer among his previous efforts.


Read more about NFV strategies and the role of open source in our NFV section here on Light Reading.

Container technology is seen as a key element in enabling telecom to become more application-focused by packaging together the elements a piece of software needs to run, including its code, runtime and systems tools and libraries. As telecom operators look to virtualize their infrastructure, being able to compose services and package them in containers that can run the same way in different operating environments is seen as an important step. (See Containers a Critical Piece of Telecom's Future).

CNCF, formally launched in late 2015, is focused on the cloud infrastructure that supports container deployment and enables the microservices approach to applications development that is often discussed as a future strategy.

"What the Cloud Native Computer Foundation is doing is saying the whole world has settled on Docker and the standardized version -- OCI [Open Container Initiative] -- as the standard for how to deploy services and applications," Kohn says. "There are still a bunch of issues around how you deploy Docker containers and track them, scale them up when demand is there and scale down when it isn't. We intend to provide a series of roadmaps and some answers about how companies can and should work with those containers."

CNCF is part of the Linux Foundation , also home to the Open Container Initiative , as well as virtualization groups. There is the opportunity for cross-pollination and discussion, but Kohn stresses his organization's independence, and determination to provide choices and alternatives for telecom operators, enterprises and others, rather than dictating how things are done or implementing standards.

The CNCF's technical oversight committee, comprising top technologists, collaborates in developing consensus recommendations with the goal of demonstrating a cloud native approach that supports multiple cloud platforms, is scalable and affordable, and avoids vendor lock-in, according to Kohn. The end-user board provides crucial feedback to that technical oversight committee.

"The goal is to create demonstrations showing how these different projects can work together," he says. "We don't want to dictate to the industry but show some demos that work, using entirely open source approaches, and that work cross platform, on multiple public clouds and your own private cloud."

To that end, the CNCF has a private cluster of 1,000 compute nodes provided by Intel for demonstrating its work, essentially a $10 million infrastructure as its test bed, Kohn notes.

Its work to date includes two projects, Kubernetes, an open source container orchestration technology originally developed and then contributed by Google, and Prometheus, an open-source systems monitoring and alerting toolkit originally built at SoundCloud. "It is used by half a dozen companies and has extremely active engagements from 100s of different contributors today," he says.

A series of new projects will be coming in the next several months and with the right input from the telecom sector, could be focused on its needs.

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

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