Verizon Looks to ONOS for Faster Transformation

Verizon's decision to join the ON.Lab's ONOS Project isn't based on one specific aspect of that group's work or one technical aspiration but its overall intent to move faster in transforming its network, a key technologist says. (See Verizon Joins ONOS.)

Gugan Puranik, director for SDN/NFV Architecture Planning at Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), tells Light Reading there are a number of projects under way at ONOS that intrigue his company, including its Central Office Re-Architected as a Data Center (CORD) initiative for mobile networks, which establishes facilities at the edge of the network for data processing, analytics and more.

"Verizon's focus is on transforming our network very quickly," Puranik says, "Open source projects like ONOS play a key role in what we are doing. Right now, we are looking at all of it -- there are some very interesting projects we are looking at. A few that we are specifically interested in are mobile CORD, the analytics CORD, and there are some specific projects we are looking at around optical and packet convergence."

Zoom in on open source and SDN strategies in our SDN section here on Light Reading.

CORD is about to go into a field trial with AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) for its residential broadband networks in March, says Guru Parulkar, executive director of the ONOS project, which also recently released Emu, the fifth version of ONOS software. The mobile version of CORD uses the same infrastructure, including white boxes that replace purpose-built gear and the ONOS SDN controller, but in place of the virtual optical line terminal to support gigabit passive optical network gear, mobile cord has virtualized broadband units (BBUs) that support access to the radio network, he explains. (See ONOS Leaps over Initial Goals & Rapidly Expands Its Ecosystem.)

"And then, we can have virtual network functions to be able to do mobile edge computing," Parulkar says. "So we can move some of the computing from deep in the network to the edge and that is very efficient for service providers because they don't have to move traffic all the way into the core for network processing and then bring it back, they can put that processing at the edge of the network."

It is also possible to disaggregate the evolved packet core and virtualize some of its functions -- the packet data network gateway or P-gateway and the Serving Gateway or S-Gateway -- at the edge of the network as well, he adds. ONOS will be doing a proof of concept of Mobile CORD at the Open Networking Summit in March and hopes to have a field trial in the works by year's end.

The analytics part of CORD is included in both the residential broadband and mobile versions, he adds, and refers to programmable performance meters or probes that are built into the software and used to generate network data that is then analyzed within the CO.

All of that is of interest to Verizon, but its key interest is in moving forward quickly, and collaboration around open source projects represents one critical way to do that, Puranik says. "We plan to be active contributors because we believe the industry benefits when we work together."

The work with ONOS won't diminish Verizon's use of other open source-based efforts, such as OpenDaylight, he adds, which may continue to be in use in other parts of Verizon's network. The company isn't a member of ODL but has announced use of its open source controller in its SDN deployments in its transport networks. (See Verizon Builds Key Vendors Into SDN Strategy.)

And Puranik doesn't rule out work with other open source groups -- Verizon is not yet part of the Open Project on NFV, for instance. "We plan to be active in many areas," he says. "What we are trying to do is drive the open source community and bring some synergy across certain projects."

Parulkar says Verizon's decision to join ONOS is a validation from another major operator -- in addition to AT&T, its members include NTT Group (NYSE: NTT), China Unicom Ltd. (NYSE: CHU) and SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM) -- and an endorsement of its work to date. He also points to Ciena's decision to offer a hardened version of ONOS, with commercial support as a key proof point. (See Ciena Offers Hardened ONOS for Next-Gen Central Office Conversions and AT&T to Show Off Next-Gen Central Office.)

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

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