Telecom organizations boosting support for open source

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Source: RCRWireless NEWS

Organizational support for open source initiatives is easing the integration of platforms into the telecom world.

One key challenge for growing the support of open source into the telecommunications space is through various organizations that are looking to either bolster the use of open source or build platforms based on open source specifications. These efforts are seen as beneficial to operators and vendors looking to take advantage of open source platforms.

“There are a number of benefits to open source, such as the upstream communities of innovators that operators can directly participate in to help lead development of and constantly improve SDN technologies and solutions,” said Nitin Serro, founder and CEO of Serro. “Telcos and their partners are joining open source initiatives, including The Linux Foundation’s OpenDaylight Project, which is working on a common SDN platform and ecosystem based on open systems and open source, and the Open Platform for NFV project, as well as open source software platforms like OpenStack.”

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute’s Open Source MANO initiative recently launched its OSM Release One stack, which it said has been “engineered, tested and documented to allow for rapid installation in operator labs worldwide that seek to create a scalable and interoperable open source MANO environment.” Release One moves on enhancing interoperability with virtual net- work functions and software-defined networking controllers, and creates a plugin framework designed to ease platform maintenance and extensions.

Specific technical highlights include native support for VMware, OpenStack and OpenVIM; support for reference SDN controllers, including OpenDaylight and FloodLight; a plugin model to facilitate the addition of new types of virtualized infrastructure managers and SDN controllers; multisite network services allowing deployments across multiple data centers; simplified installer based on containers and Juju modeling; extended VNF and network service models allowing “day-zero” VNF configuration; and OpenVIM code to provide a reference VIM with support for enhanced platform awareness.

The release follows up on the launch of Release 0 early last year, which integrated seed code supplied by Telefónica,, Cononical and other vendors. ETSI at that time predicted the Release 1 unveiling within six months.

ETSI began work on using open source software for management and orchestration of network functions virtualization in connection with its NFV industry specification group in early 2015. The ETSI OSM was tasked with delivering an open source MANO stack using “accepted open source tools and working procedures.” ETSI said the use of open source software in its MANO efforts will “provide practical and essential feedback to the ETSI NFV ISG and increase the likelihood of interoperability among NFV implementations.”

ETSI tackled some MANO challenges in 2015, as part of a release of three specifications focused on security and reliability. ETSI said the security aspect tackled OpenStack modules that provide security services, including authentication, authorization, confidentiality protection, integrity protection and logging, which is said help in the area of MANO.

Work has also flourished under The Linux Foundation umbrella with highly touted work through OPNFV and OpenDaylight.

OPNFV in September released its latest Colorado platform, which was the third from the organization. OPNFV said Colorado includes updates targeted at accelerating the development of NFV applications and services by enhancing security, IPv6 support, service function chaining, testing VPN capabilities and support for multiple hardware architectures. The organization noted the updates followed collaboration with upstream communities and are integrated into the “automated install/deploy/testing framework.”

Specifics of the Colorado updates include the platform’s security efforts earning the Core Infrastructure Initiative Badge for best practices in open source development; the ability for service function chaining to run across multiple nodes, inclusion of installer support for VNF Manager installation and support for “enhanced” cloud scenarios; support for IPv6-only deployments, and underlay and overlay support and integration with additional install tools; the SDN VPN project now enabling full Layer 2 and Layer 3 VPN support; and multiple hardware architecture support, including ARM and x86 architectures.

OPNFV also highlighted increased collaboration across ecosystems via working groups focused on management and operation; infrastructure; security and testing, with five “committers-at-large” members elected to the OPNFV Technical Steering Committee “to enhance the meritocratic nature of the project.”

“We’re seeing a maturity of process with the Colorado release, reflected by things like achievement of the CII Best Practices badge for security and the growing maturity of our testing and devops methodology,” said Chris Price, TSC chair, and OPNFV and open source manager for SDN, cloud and NFV at Ericsson. “The creation of working groups across MANO, infrastructure, security and testing also help the project evolve towards a foundational and robust industry platform for advanced open source NFV.”

OpenDaylight late last year unveiled its fifth platform release under the Boron tag, touting enhancements to cloud and NFV use-case capabilities, performance and tooling designed to ease management of use cases.

ODL said in addition to the SDN platform’s updated support for NFV and cloud, it also includes re-architecting OpenStack related capabilities “within a unified development framework for better scalability and performance, including clustering, high availability and persistence.” This is said to include improved coordination between OpenStack Neutron and the controller and enhanced sup- port for IPv6, security groups and virtual local area networks.

“The new architecture enables the ability to grow beyond OpenStack integration by allowing control from other orchestration systems and applications,” ODL explained.

Southbound updates for virtual network functions are also said to include OpenFlow and NetConf optimization. For downstream support, ODL started work with its fellow Linux Foundation partner OPNFV in terms of improvement for proof of transit validating service chain packet flow, enhancements to support fast data-input/output service chain identification and support for the latest Open vSwitch release.

ODL noted the latest SDN platform included significant member participation from the likes of AT&T, which provided support for YangIDE focused on support building new YANG models; Telefónica and Intel, which led NetIDE designed to ease the sharing of applications across controller deployments; and Comcast, which worked on EMAN in looking to improve energy efficiency for networks.

“We’re excited to see the release of OpenDaylight Boron,” said AT&T’s Rice, of the unveiling. “We contributed to the release and expect to use the code at the heart of our network. We like OpenDaylight for the breadth of ‘brownfield’ protocols that are supported, its model-driven approach that matches our service abstraction logic and the ability to add applications on top of the controller base. One of the tenets of the open source community is that you don’t just take code; you contribute it as well. We’re committed to doing just that, and this is an example.”

In general, telecom operators seem to welcome the help from open source organizations, noting their ability to provide a level of stability assurance for platforms.

“Certainly we are the benefactors of the work that those organizations do,” said John Isch, director of network and voice practice, at Orange Business Services Network and Voice Center of Excellence. “In an ideal world any virtual network function works on any open source system, and those organizations hopefully get us closer to that nirvana. In today’s world it’s anything but plug-and-play with VNFs. There is a great deal of testing that needs to be done to ensure a VNF will work with a given orchestration platform. We believe this will only improve from here through the work of these organizations and pressure from the carrier industry.”

While this flood of organizational support should help alleviate deployment fears for telecom operators, some noted the growing number of these organizations could actually just make things worse. Dana Cooperson, research director at Analysys Mason, noted some of these organizations actually compete against each other, highlighting various open source approaches to MANO, “including [Open Source MANO], which came out of Telefónica; Open-O, which has come out of China; and ECOMP, which AT&T created and is in the midst of making open source.”

“Deciding which, if any open source communities to support is a huge dilemma, especially for smaller CSPs – they don’t really have the personnel to engage directly and contribute to the community, so they will probably prefer to work through their vendors, who will have a more direct role with the communities,” Cooperson said. “But vendors face the same dilemma: which initiatives to back, and what role do they want to play?”