Joseph Sulistyo heads software product management and strategy for SDN/NFV/Cloud solution for Radisys Corporation. He is leading Radisys in open source strategy and open system integration, recently through collaboration with ON.Lab project and CORD (Central Office Re-Architected as Data Center) to accelerate the adoption of SDN/NFV in service provider infrastructure.
SDxCentral: Radisys has built a strong reputation as an innovative infrastructure provider for the telecommunications market. What are the major service provider trends that you expect will have huge impact on your business?
Sulistyo: Service providers will continue to see both challenges and opportunities with the rapidly evolving capabilities of end user and mobile devices. A single smartphone today can deliver the same capabilities as twenty or more different devices of the past, due to the fact that many so-called “gadgets” are now software apps on a single device. At the same time, the Internet has become faster and more reliable, while cloud architecture and infrastructure has become more mainstream. This provides a tremendous opportunity for immersive multimedia, ultra HD videos and emerging IoT to be integrated into the fabric of our communication. This all results in increased complexity at the edge, millions of traffic flows, and huge amounts of data that must be analyzed and serviced in service providers’ wired and wireless infrastructure.
Radisys helps communications and content providers create new revenue streams and drive cost out of their services delivery infrastructure. Service providers come to us to re-design and deploy their software and hardware infrastructure with more efficacy, agility and flexibility to support all of these multi-access services and to respond in real-time to the many dynamic ways that end users now communicate. The industry challenge is how to deliver high quality services with amplified levels of intelligence and awareness at a fraction of the cost of legacy systems. We work to enable service providers to build distributed edge infrastructure solutions utilizing white-box hardware, open source SDN platforms, and a set of unified network control and management applications that can promote innovation and rapid deployment of new services. Radisys’ hyperscale software-defined infrastructure, service aware traffic distribution platforms, real-time media processing solutions, and wireless access technologies enable its customers to maximize, virtualize and monetize their networks.
With the drive towards cloud, NFV and SDN, how has the role of the hardware changed?
Sulistyo: Hardware used to be focused on purpose-built solutions delivering specific network functions. Application and control software was tightly integrated and distributed within the hardware elements. These tightly integrated, disparate hardware solutions constrained service providers from flexibly developing and deploying new services at scale and speed to meet the demands of the current generation of users.
The advent of new virtualized frameworks (cloud, NFV, and SDN) has changed telco hardware strategy to embrace open control interfaces and programmable data path elements. The cloud has given rise to commoditization of infrastructure using merchant silicon and commercial off-the-shelf hardware that are managed and orchestrated with software. NFV and SDN push the scope of software even more towards the abstraction, programming, manipulation and disaggregation of network functions. “Whitebox switching” in networking has emerged as a bare metal switch that is run with a hardware-agnostic network operating system and managed by a decoupled centralized controller. The cloud, NFV and SDN have shifted the industry’s attention from a high performance “closed” purpose-built systems to an “open” programmable hardware and flexible software architecture as the differentiator. This high degree of freedom (in software and hardware) paves a path to a new open converged platform – one that combines best-of-breed hardware silicon to perform particular feats while managed and orchestrated by common software through standard control interfaces. Each hardware element can be managed separately or interlocked together as a unified platform. These open hardware platforms allow service providers to deliver a similar quality of service as a “closed” box solution, but with less constraints, leading to greater agility and increased ROI.
How does this move towards converged open hardware change Radisys’ hardware strategy? Can you explain how Radisys’ competencies come into play in serving this shifting market?
Sulistyo: Firstly, for those who do not know Radisys, I would like to briefly preface our company profile. Radisys has over 25 years of telecom system integration expertise, with core competencies in delivering hardened carrier grade platform designed with heterogeneous sets of best-of-breed off-the-shelf compute, storage and networking components along with open source and purpose-built software elements.
We are active member of the Open Compute Project (OCP) and ON.Lab (Open Networking Lab) contributing back to the community. Radisys’ deep and proven expertise in SDN, open hardware and complex telecommunication software systems make us an ideal integrator for open source project, such as CORD (Central Office Re-Architected as a DataCenter).
Our newest offering, DCEngine, provides a multi-rack level NFVi and container-based infrastructure for hosting a multitude of VNFs and applications under open SDN control. It is based on OCP principles, but enhanced to meet telco requirements for performance and latency. Most importantly, it integrates open and commercial components for performance, scale and reliability to help service providers re-architect their central offices into hyperscale data centers.
While we’ve addressed the needs for telco data center infrastructure with DCEngine, the problem then shifts to accurately classifying and managing the millions of subscribers’ flows entering and exiting the service/app domain. This is where Radisys’ FlowEngine comes into play. It is designed to address the real-time management of growing traffic flows either in the data center, cloud or edge central offices by combining basic to advanced data plane primitives with programmable control through the SDN controller and service orchestrator. It can be run as VNF, micro-service, or abstracted as a service on converged whitebox system such as the Traffic Distribution Engine (TDE) platform. With a single system, FlowEngine software on a TDE platform can connect hundreds of millions of data flows with thousands of network functions.
Wrapping it all together is our professional service that provides full hardware and software system integration. An end to end system integration lifecycle ensures that the best in open source software can be fully leveraged to accelerate changes within our solutions. Our team aims to facilitate a flexible dev-ops model for service-driven environments with the logical separation of control and data plane services that is necessary to unlock the closed, monolitihic network architecture.
You talked a little about the open-source component of this move. Can you provide us with a bit more insight into the role software plays in Radisys’ strategy? Is this software move new for you?
Sulistyo: With our deep expertise in mobile architectures and open software components, as well as our background in hardware integration, we are positioned well as a system integrator for open source projects.
A great example is our ongoing work with the CORD (Central Office Re-architected as a Datacenter) Project. For CORD, we’ve combined a deployable hardware blueprint with a complete open source software stack and a suite of professional services to enable operators to quickly and easily leverage the benefits of commodity building blocks in their central office transformation projects. We can leverage a large ecosystem of vendors to bring value to our customers, delivered with the flexibility and scalability of the CORD framework.
In addition to our role as a systems integrator for CORD, we are also the scrum master and active contributor for Mobile CORD (M-CORD), an initiative that integrates the CORD framework into service providers’ mobile network architecture to enable an agile, service-driven environment that can dynamically respond to real-time subscriber demands. For M-CORD, we’ve integrated our FlowEngine technology to enable disaggregation and virtualization of EPC data plane gateway components with support for OpenFlow interfaces, for control and orchestration via an ONOS controller. M-CORD helps to pave the way for service-driven 5G architecture that is built with the principles of few commodity building blocks using open source software and whiteboxes and software platforms that enable rapid creation of new mobile edge services.
With the combination of both software and hardware expertise, it seems like Radisys is well poised to engage this changing market. What other elements are necessary to ensure success in deployment at service providers worldwide?
Sulistyo: In addition to our hardware and software integration expertise, the other element for a successful deployment is the flexibility to deploy new sets of technologies that provide a high ROI solution that has the economics of an open platform but delivers the performance of a high-end purpose-built system. At Radisys, we excel at integrating the best-of-breed solutions from our partner ecosystem along with our secret sauce to accelerate these service provider deployments.
One example of our deployment success is our work with a tier-one U.S. mobile operator on the deployment of our FlowEngine intelligent traffic distribution system as an SDN enabled service delivery platform. It was selected due to its superior flexibility and programmability as well as highly compelling economics. Radisys’ FlowEngine technology unleashes a cost effective, intelligent front end traffic distributor which normalizes traffic at a single point in the network with very high throughput and very low latency. This innovative technology allows for better monetization of traffic and acceleration of new service introduction for a range of both large and small traffic flows including cloud based applications, video optimization and IoT.
What do you think this new world of converged HW, SW and systems integration means for the incumbents?
Sulistyo: This shift to converged hardware, software and systems integration delivers a new approach to bringing the same sets of services to the market, but with a lower barrier to entry, including lower costs and complexity. Service providers are no longer content to work solely with one large incumbent TEM provider, but are eager to embrace innovation and the disaggregation of their networks with commodity hardware and open source software. They want and need the freedom to innovate without relying their company strategy on any particular vendor’s product direction and roadmaps.
Incumbents with closed platforms will need to find a new way to transition to either a hybrid model or all the way to an open source model as the industry is favoring system vendors that can tie together open hardware and software with specialized services.
Can you provide us with some concrete real-world use cases that you’ve participated in to bring this new combined systems offering to the market?
Sulistyo: As I mentioned before, we’re the system integrator for CORD. We are collaborating with both ON.Lab and the CORD Project collaborators and partners to pre-validate and fully support the CORD software suite from compute OS layer, the infrastructure management, through orchestration layers of the platform that includes Ubuntu, OpenStack, Docker, ONOS, and XOS, amongst many.
In addition, we manage project planning and execution amongst the collaborating vendors for Mobility CORD, or M-CORD. M-CORD brings together the best of the CORD framework and mobile to construct the next-generation mobile edge architecture. It integrates a disaggregated and virtualized RAN and EPC with mobile edge services into CORD. We worked with ON.Lab and partners, AT&T, SK Telecom and Verizon, to develop the first M-CORD proof-of-concept unveiled at the recent Open Networking Summit.
Notably, DCEngine, is based on principles evangelized by the Open Compute Project with specific enhancements to meet the needs of service providers. We are already shipping DCEngine into one of the world’s largest mobile operators which they use as a cloud analytics gateway for mobile applications and subscribers. We anticipate additional deployments and trials with other telco providers and cable operators this year.
For the service providers who are interested in your new system integration offerings, how would you recommend they get started?
Sulistyo: Service providers need to first determine which use case to migrate towards a SDN/NFV architecture, whether that’s mobility or residential, or whether it’s the edge or data center. Next consideration is which legacy systems they want to migrate to an open infrastructure framework. Radisys can help guide this process and provide a transitionary model to allow interoperability with current environment and flexibly integrating commodity building blocks and open source architecture. Service providers can learn more about our DCEngine and FlowEngine solutions, as well as reach our experts. Industry resources on the open CORD framework and M-CORD also provide good information on these new open infrastructures.
Thank you for spending time with us in this interview.
Sulistyo: Thank you for having me.