ONS Europe: Open source is core to Telco modernization projects

Service providers around the world are modernizing their networks, and open source has been core to their digital transformation. Nowhere was that more apparent than at last week’s Open Networking Summit Europe, where service providers and open source partners gathered to celebrate open source innovation.

The show kicked off with the release of a report from The Linux Foundation and six industry sponsors, including Red Hat, that underscored the commitment service providers are making to open source. According to the survey, conducted by analyst firm Heavy Reading, 98 percent of respondents expressed confidence in open networking solutions performing at the same level as traditional networking solutions. They also signaled confidence in open source solutions, with 69 percent of service providers surveyed indicating that they are currently using open source solutions in production networks.

Service providers “are being driven by demand for new digital goods and services—streaming video, streaming audio, mobile 5G use cases—and those are what are driving us in the open source community to develop solutions with them,” said Tom Nadeau, technical director, NFV engineering, Red Hat, during his Day 1 keynote. (Video courtesy of Linux Foundation.)

Embracing open technologies

Building an ecosystem for service provider transformation also requires changing the company’s internal mindset in order to successfully work with open communities. That also means open infrastructure, open tools, open processes and open consistency, Nadeau said, arguing that in open source, community is as important as the technologies.

In another keynote Red Hat and a group of partners demonstrated an important step as services providers chart a path to 5G: the virtualized central office (VCO).

In the version 2.0 keynote and demo, the group focused on the implementation of virtual radio access network (vRAN) as well as the mobile packet core elements via virtual evolved packet core (vEPC), the minimum viable mobile network configuration.

The group of demo partners provided a list of lessons learned as they look to operationalize these scenarios:

  • Open source collaboration works: The demo spanned 15 organizations, and more than 30 volunteers
  • Open source is increasingly mature: The group achieved full interoperability of open source vRAN with commercial handsets and vEPC
  • Organizations need to plan well ahead: Preparation should include specification, diagrams and hardware required up front
  • Hardware optimization: “Fairly beefy hardware was needed and we did learn a fair amount about what needed to go on bare metal and what didn’t really need to,” said Heather Kirksey, vice president of ecosystem and community at The Linux Foundation.

In other sessions and news from the show:

  • The Red Hat team also explored the question: “Is the OpenDaylight Project a Dying Star?” As Nadeau succinctly put it in his Tweet on the session, “we had to ask a controversial question but that resulted in some productive reflection and hopefully plans to move forward with OpenDaylight.” The team showed how OpenDaylight can be used as a networking platform for new initiatives such as K8S, VPP/fd.io, Ansible, multi cloud\hybrid cloud and others.
  • There are still a lot of issues with the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP), but there’s also plenty of carrier support and a lot of people eager to see ONAP through and make it work, Ray Le Maistre, Light Reading editor in chief, reported from the show.
  • Deutsche Telekom’s Alex Clauberg backs the introduction of open source into telecom but cautioned the vendor community that this needs to be approached with a telecom perspective if it’s going to work. Dropping pure cloud native applications into a telecom environment isn’t the right path, he noted in his keynote. “Cloud native is not easy … it will not solve all of our problems … Anyone without experience of the current [telecom] paradigm will fail with cloud native,” he said. (Video courtesy of Linux Foundation.)

Missed ONS Europe 2018? You can check out many of the presentations and well as the full keynote playlist on the ONS Europe site, and learn more about Red Hat solutions for service providers.

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