Adtran wants to accelerate the transition to software-defined access (SD-access) networks, and it wants to use open source techniques to get there. To that end, it launched the Mosaic Open Network Alliance. And it’s hoping service providers and other vendors will join.
Kurt Raaflaub, head of strategic solutions marketing at Adtran, referenced the Apple App Store ecosystem numerous times in attempting to describe what Adtran is looking to build. He explained service providers taking advantage of the group would be able to build applications and services that could run on top of their networking deployments.
For its part, Adtran is offering access to its Mosaic SD-access platform, with members in turn having access to each other’s work. Vendors would be able to fill in holes in their own portfolios under the idea of offering an open platform to carriers.
Adtran launched its Mosaic platform last year, which was designed to help service providers using technologies like next-generation passive optical networking (NG-PON2) and G.Fast make the transition to open, programmable networks.
The Mosaic portfolio includes the Mosaic Cloud platform that combines modular apps with open source control and orchestration; Mosaic OS, a Linux-based operating system optimized for SDN programmability; and the Programmable Network Elements, a multivendor networking software that integrates natively with open SDN-controlled access networks.
Adtran earlier this month reported that CenturyLink deployed a field trial of its virtualized optical line terminal (OLT) 10G-PON system with Adtran’s Mosaic operating system to create SD-access.
Another Open Alliance?
Raaflaub explained the telecom world continues to struggle with true interoperability, which was behind Adtran’s work in pushing its SD-access platform. He said current open initiatives are just not meeting the needs of the market.
“If we left this to the big standards bodies, this would all move too slow,” Raaflaub said. “It could take years to vet all of this out. What accelerates this is just jumping in and doing it. It’s like a DevOps type of environment to create applications and get the ball rolling.”
More superficial to what the organization is looking to accomplish, Raaflaub said that in forming the group, Adtran struggled internally with how it wanted to refer to the organization. He noted “ecosystem” was initially proposed, but the company wanted to avoid overuse of the term as well as the typical association of the description to initiatives that are heavily driven by a single vendor.
“That was something we wrestled with in the hallways,” Raaflaub said. “We just cringed at using the word ‘ecosystem’ to describe this. … Alliance just seemed to be more interactive and collaborative to what we are tying to accomplish.”
Membership is currently broken down into two levels: collaboration members that are testing out the alliance to see where they might fit; and integration members that include a “technology” and “services” partners subset with a greater emphasis on actual work within the alliance.
Raaflaub said the organization has already attracted interested members, with plans to name names later this year.
Raaflaub noted the organization could be a way to bring together divergent paths in terms of optical network technologies. He cited the fact that some of its rivals are supporting standards like NG-PON2, while others are on board with XGS-PON or G.Fast.
As an example, Verizon is currently moving on NG-PON2 technology. The carrier said it recently proved interoperability of NG-PON2 using the OpenOMCI specification at its technology facility in Massachusetts.
The spec defines the interface between the OLT, which is typically located at the service provider’s central hub, and the optical networking terminal (ONT), which is near the end user.
AT&T on the other hand plans to conduct a 10-gigabit symmetric PON (XGS-PON) trial later this year as part of its plan to virtualize access functions within the last mile of its fiber network. AT&T has worked with ON.Lab to develop and test Open Network Operating System (ONOS) and Virtual Optical Line Terminator Hardware Abstraction (VOLTHA) software to hide the lower level details of the silicon.
AT&T is waiting approval on submissions of open white box XGS OLT designs to the Open Compute Project (OCP).
“We think it’s important that the industry keeps an open mind to where they are going with networking technology, and think the alliance can play a part in keeping everyone on the same page,” Raaflaub said.
As to where the alliance is heading and how Adtran might benefit, Raaflaub said the company remains open minded.
“We are not sure where this might go,” he said. “We just want to accelerate the path to software-defines access using a true open networking scenario. Whether that gets completed while we are still around or after it might be rolled into an open consortium, I don’t know. We feel if we just left it to the large consortiums at this point that are trying to boil the ocean, a lot of carrier-grade feature sets would remain unfulfilled.”
Raaflaub did admit that Adtran could see itself garnering a percentage of revenues driven from the alliance, perhaps similar to how application stores generate revenues through a shared revenue model.
“We want to be fully open now, and worry about making money later,” Raaflaub said. “That sort of goes back to using the term alliance. It sounds more collaborative and less like some sort of way to generate revenues.”