The Central Office Re-Architected as a Data Center (CORD) is today becoming an independent open source group hosted by the Linux Foundation. And Google is joining CORD, along with Radisys and Samsung Electronics.
This Friday, Google is hosting a CORD Summit at its Sunnyvale (Calif.) Tech Corner Campus, where the first open-source distribution of CORD will be unveiled.
The summit was initially planned as a small event for about 150 people who were already participating in CORD as a part of ONOS, says Guru Parulkar, executive director at On.Lab, which originally created ONOS. But the organizers received so much interest, they expanded the conference to accommodate 300 people, and there’s now a waiting list.
Google isn’t saying explicitly why it’s so keen to lead the charge on CORD. But the whole point of CORD is to standardize and streamline the entire central office (CO). So it follows that Google must want to have a say in the architecture of the future CO.
At a high level, CORD aims to make the telco central office look like a next-gen data center. A Google data center may have 10 fibers coming in to a space populated with white box equipment that is deployed in a pod-style architecture.
That compares to a telco CO where potentially hundreds of different connections come in over disparate media and technologies such as fiber, DSL, GPON, and HFC cable. Then the packets are handled by as many as 300 different types of proprietary equipment. And the CO serves thousands of residential, enterprise, and mobile subscribers.
Service providers such as AT&T are racing to update their outdated COs where the complexity and lack of programmability is hindering them from creating new services quickly.
According to Parulkar, AT&T operates 4,700 COs in the United States alone. The service provider is building its AT&T Integrated Cloud (AIC) and already has 150 zones activated. These “zones” are basically new data centers or modernized extensions of existing COs.
AT&T programmers have been active participants in CORD from its inception.
The CORD vision is to deliver economies of scale for data centers, using white box hardware, open-source software, and virtualization technologies such as software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV).
The CORD architecture creates two control planes: one for networking, using ONOS as the controller, and one for managing VNFs, using a new CORD operating system dubbed XOS, which stands for everything-as-a-service operating system.
Although the two control planes are separated to explain the architecture, Parulkar says in reality, they interact with each other a lot. Also, the chart shows XOS as the operating system for the VNFs, but service providers could also work with Docker and OpenStack.
CORD can support the different types of service provider customers: residential, enterprise, and mobile. Residential CORD is currently being field-trialed by AT&T.
In addition to Google, Radisys and Samsung have joined CORD. Radisys wants to play the role of systems integrator within the open source project, providing turnkey CORD Pods. Ciena is already participating as a systems integrator.
Samsung is a provider of wireless handsets, but Parulkar says it provides network infrastructure as well.
All of the existing ONOS partners have joined CORD, with the exception of Huawei and Ericsson. “Huawei is unlikely to join CORD,” says Parulkar. But, he says that 10 to 15 Huawei employees are attending Friday’s CORD summit.
Ericsson has not signed the agreement yet as an official CORD partner but is expected to do so.