The first few years of open source work on software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) were defined by some nebulous goals. But this year, three clear trends emerged from the haze.
First, the Central Office Re-architected as a Data Center (CORD) became really popular. It garnered so much attention in 2016 that its originator — On.Lab‘s Open Network Operating System (ONOS) — established CORD as a separate open source entity.
Secondly, where there had been a void in the area of management and network orchestration (MANO), suddenly there was a glut. Two competing groups established MANO open source projects. And a service provider, AT&T, even jumped into the open source MANO fray.
Finally, the MEF’s Lifecycle Services Orchestration (LSO) looks as if it might become more relevant than expected.
CORD Struck a Chord
In July, On.Lab spun off CORD from ONOS and established it as an independent open source group hosted by the Linux Foundation. At the same time, Google joined CORD and hosted the first CORD Summit at its Sunnyvale, California, campus. The first open-source distribution of CORD was also unveiled at that event.
Before CORD became a separate project, several telcos had already joined ONOS with particular interest in CORD. The list included Verizon, AT&T, China Unicom, NTT Communications, and SK Telecom. Even more particularly, Verizon said it would focus on mobile CORD (M-CORD) as an enabler of 5G.
Although CORD was originally intended to make the telco central office look like a next-gen data center, the “telco central office” part has become less relevant.
The access technology doesn’t matter as far as CORD is concerned. AT&T’s traffic may arrive over GPON or DSL, while Comcast’s traffic may come in over HFC cable. The CORD software takes traffic from disparate technologies and converts it into Ethernet packets. Then, the packet switching that needs to be done at the central office (or headend for cable, or data center for Google) can be moved onto commodity hardware and controlled by one operating system: ONOS.
Everybody Does the MANO
At Mobile World Congress in February, the founders of Open Source MANO (OSM) announced their project. And then two days later, the founders of Open-O announced their own project. The next month, AT&T unveiled its Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management, and Policy (ECOMP) platform, which also includes MANO code. So suddenly, MANO became a potentially overcrowded field.
The OSM project initially integrated software from Telefónica, Canonical, and Rift.io. Its MANO stack is aligned with the NFV information models defined by ETSI. The project announced its first code release in October.
The Linux Foundation is hosting Open-O, which has a heavy Chinese influence. The project was kicked off at a press conference with China Mobile and Huawei. And Huawei has committed $30 million to the project during its first three years. In November,Open-O unveiled its Release 1.0 code, dubbed Sun.
AT&T’s ECOMP platform is a comprehensive SDN and NFV reference architecture that happens to also include MANO. AT&T plans to open source ECOMP by the first quarter of 2017. And the Linux Foundation will be the host of the project.
LSO Becomes Relevant
When the Metro Ethernet Forum (now known simply as MEF) first started talking about Lifecycle Services Orchestration (LSO), there were some eye rolls. Did the world really need another membership organization with another vague acronym, promising to do end-to-end whatever?
In March, MEF published its LSO Reference Architecture & Framework. The 56-page document seemed like it covered a lot of the same NFV and SDN topics as other open source groups. But MEF does have a unique niche, catering to service providers that have Ethernet connections between buildings or to providers that interconnect with other service providers.
In addition, MEF has been collaborating with other open source groups. It enlisted On.Lab as a partner. And Rick Bauer, formerly the head of standards at the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), became the director of certifications for MEF.
Fujitsu recently said it has created an NFV/SDN consulting and integration practice to help customers use virtual network functions. And Fujitsu is using MEF’s LSO for its NFV/SDN reference architecture.