Some argue there are too many open source management and network orchestration (MANO) projects already, but Open-O might serve a wider purpose: bringing China’s developers into the open source community.
“There is this tremendous developer community in China and throughout Asia that has yet to be unlocked, so to speak,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, during an Open-O presentation at the Open Networking Summit (ONS) yesterday.
Multiple open source efforts around network functions virtualization (NFV) MANO have sprung up during the past year; SDxCentral counted four of them in January. Possibly the earliest one was Telefonica‘s OpenMANO, which is now part of the Open Source MANO (OSM) project and is proceeding with help from the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).
Open-O is curated by the Linux Foundation, which also happens to run ONS. So, it’s not surprising that Open-O got some ONS stage time. But OSM will get its chance as well, in a Thursday morning session.
During audience Q&A, someone did ask about the need for multiple open source projects tackling essentially the same problem. Zemlin likened it to the startup gold rush that happens any time a technology niche gets hot.
“Open source projects have a similar market mechanism,” he said. “We may see one emerge as dominant over the other, but it’s not a horrible thing to have multiple efforts.”
What’s important is “setting up a structure that allows for the smooth flow of ideas” between the projects, he said. Open-O is still in formation — it won’t officially kick off until April or May — so Zemlin plans to establish that kind of structure for the project.
Open-O has its roots in Asia, with China Mobile, China Telecom, and Huawei among its initial backers. Major open source projects rarely spring up in China, and one reason for that is the language barrier. Open source project discussions tend to be conducted over mailing lists written in English, noted Hui Deng, who leads SDN/NFV strategy at China Mobile.
“The top issue is the language issue. The coders may like this code but do not speak good English,” said Deng, who was the primary presenter during the ONS session. “We can try to help.”
That’s part of the reason for Open-O reaching out to the Linux Foundation as a home for the project, as the foundation’s influence is strongest in the United States. One way the foundation could help is by offering lessons in “hacker English,” Zemlin said.
Open-O and Orchestration
Open-O is not only about creating a single orchestrator for NFV, but also about standardizing the many interfaces connecting that orchestrator to other software elements, such as VNF managers or other orchestrators. Too many of these have already started emerging as proprietary, Deng said.
Open-O’s exact goals haven’t been finalized. But the current thinking is that the project will also develop a unified information model to use inside the orchestrator, according to Deng. Common information models would smooth the interoperability between the orchestrator and other network elements.
What might make Open-O stand out is a focus on connectivity services as well as on NFV itself. An element called SDN-O would set up connectivity across the network, while the NFV-O piece would provision the virtualized network services.
And then a piece called Cross Domain-O (yes, these are the actual names, so far) would be the conduit to the service layer, responsible for understanding what the operator is trying to deliver.
China Telecom envisions using an Open-O orchestrator for end-to-end VPN services. Liu Kai from China Telecom presented the case for a service that would cross the SDN and NFV domains, creating an overlay network between data centers and a separate overlay between a data center and the WAN — an approach that’s going to favor the use of some type of layered orchestration.
This model would also have the VNF manager integrated into the orchestrator.
Some of the infrastructure for this service is already being built out, Kai said. China Telecom would like to finish building out the architecture during the next year.
China Mobile sees Open-O as a vehicle for orchestrating services across multiple vendors’ equipment. “The orchestrator can decouple operator services from the base telecom infrastructure,” said Deng.
And while KT‘s representative wasn’t able to appear for this session, Deng presented that carrier’s idea for using Open-O to help run SDN in a packet-optical transport network.