SAN JOSE, California — Sprint is working with bare metal-cloud startup Packet to build its 5G network. And the carrier says Open19 open source hardware gives it the needed flexibility and speed to prepare for the new technology requirements.
“Open19 gives flexibility,” said Aaron Hinkle, systems architect at Sprint. “At Sprint, it takes a good two years to get something into production.” Open19’s standardized form factor makes it easier to mix and match hardware. It also reduces installation time and cost of integration, he added. “So anyone can slip in a brick [server],” Hinkle said. “Our time to market goes from two years down to one year or less. And with Packet we can take it a step further, moving from a capex to an opex model.”
Sprint plans to commercially launch mobile 5G services in nine markets early next year.
Packet recently closed a $25 million Series B funding round. It plans to use the investment in part to build out its edge computing network, which has 50 new sites under development. The startup’s cloud is available in 18 global locations and supports more than 60,000 bare metal installs each month.
Everything But The Brick
Meeting the low-latency and high-bandwidth demands of 5G-enabled technologies will require service providers to put massive compute resources close to users.
“Because edge is more than the 30 data centers we have now, we’re looking at what happens when we go to 100 data centers,” Hinkle said. “We don’t know where the usage is going to be so we don’t know where to lay compute.” Being able to “deploy everything but the brick” reduces the time to spin up these new edge data centers, he added. “Having an Open19 infrastructure and a service provider like Packet be out there at the edge means when I need compute I give them a couple days’ notice, and then they are slotting it into Open19.”
The Open19 Project is a disaggregated platform designed to fit any 19-inch rack environment for servers, storage, and networking. It does not define the servers — these are built by the server suppliers that support the Open19 server portfolio.
“We have the opportunity to reinvent stuff at the edge,” said Yuval Bachar, president of the Open19 Foundation and principal architect at LinkedIn. “Creating an edge cloud means low latency, close to the end user, and servers that will operate across service providers. For example, a car driving on an AT&T network should run exactly the same as if it were running on a Sprint network. With Open19, now we can build it.”
Open19 and Open Networking?
Hinkle also fielded a question about whether Open19 should get involved in open networking.
“Yes,” he said. “The answer is simple. The reality is when you move to the edge and you move to a public cloud you have to be able to do a full SDN deployment. It’s all going to be logical, it’s all software defined, and it has to be done easy.”