The OPNFV open source group is working on a project called the virtual Central Office (vCO). This project, in many ways, seems similar to the Central Office Re-architected as a Data Center (CORD) project. Both vCO and CORD are ultimately hosted by the Linux Foundation (That relationship is explained later in this article). So why in the world would OPNFV create a similar project to CORD?
A big part of the answer seems to boil down to the age-old preference for either the ONOS software-defined networking (SDN) controller or the OpenDaylight SDN controller. (OK, “age-old” is a bit of an exaggeration given that SDN has only been around for about eight years).
According to Phil Robb, VP of operations for networking and orchestration at the Linux Foundation, speaking on behalf of OPNFV: the components of the virtual central office are different than CORD. He explained that vCO is built on OpenStack. CORD can be built on OpenStack or Docker containers. But vCO uses the OpenDaylight controller, while CORD uses the XOS operating system and the ONOS controller.
“The folks inside OPNFV chose OpenDaylight as the controller,” said Robb. “OpenDaylight is deployed a lot more than ONOS.” He added that the configuration of CORD is focused toward white box using OpenFlow, while vCO can support that scenario too, but it can also support a border gateway protocol (BGP) network.
“Another way to manage a network is to have a controller such as OpenDaylight act as a BGP speaker, broadcasting routes, similar to what OpenFlow does,” said Robb. “The method is different, but the end result to identify routes to specific switches in your network is the same.”
Robb said BGP is important for networks with legacy BGP equipment. “As we look at vCO version 2, it is using OpenStack and OpenDaylight and may also use ONAP as the end-to-end orchestration platform to manage the VNFs,” he said.
The vCO version 1 was first unveiled at the OPNFV Summit last June in Beijing. Contributors to vCO include Cisco, Cumulus, Ericsson, F5, Intel, Lenovo, Mellanox, Netscout, Nokia, and Red Hat. This group worked together to demonstrate a virtual CPE use case for the virtual central office at the June OPNFV Summit. The group is now working on vCO version 2, which it plans to demonstrate at the Open Networking Summit in Europe later this year.
Red Hat and vCO
Red Hat has been hosting webinars about the modern telco on SDxCentral. And part two of the webinar series focuses on the virtual central office.
According to a blog post penned by Hanen Garcia Gamardo, technical product marketing manager of telco solutions at Red Hat, “Previous attempts to virtualize the central office have resulted in proprietary or limited approaches by building components from scratch to address specific issues. With the latest developments in orchestration tools and newest features in OpenDaylight SDN controller, in-built capabilities for a virtualized central office are now available.”
In February, Red Hat and Intel participated in the Quanta Cloud Technology (QCT) Central Office 2.0 conference where they announced new products for the telco central office. The products are based on commodity hardware and open, software-defined architectures, focused on the network functions virtualization (NFV) infrastructure layer.
Both OPNFV and CORD will be touting their central office projects at the upcoming Open Networking Summit in Los Angeles. The conference is hosted by the Linux Foundation.
CORD, ONF, the Linux Foundation
Trying to understand CORD’s relationship to the Linux Foundation and the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) was like trying to unravel the Gordian Knot. In July 2016, CORD became a separate open source project under the Linux Foundation.
I had to cut through the confusion by requesting an explanation from the ONF. Here’s the response:
“CORD, ONOS, Trellis, Stratum (and a handful of other projects) are ONF projects. The ONF is a member of and works closely with the Linux Foundation for the purpose of:
- Strategic alignment across the full portfolio of open source projects (from ONF, Linux Foundation, and beyond);
- Adopting open source best practices;
- Infrastructure support (developer tools, HR, accounting, etc.).
As such, all the ONF projects are considered to be part of the Linux Foundation’s portfolio of projects.”