Rick Hornby, executive director for core network planning at Verizon, said open source platforms are a “great place for tools” as the operator dives deeper into virtualization. Hornby, who focuses on Verizon’s network cloud initiatives, noted those platforms meld with the carrier’s focus on industry neutral solutions that Verizon is “comfortable in contributing back into.”
“These platforms continue to get better with each release,” Hornby said.
Verizon appears to be like many large telecommunication operators in that it’s anxious for the resource and cost savings of software but is still struggling to find the perfect implementation format.
Hornby sounded a similar cautious optimism toward the use of containers by the carrier as part of its software evolution.
“We will end up there,” Hornby said. “Whether it’s Kubernetes running on top of OpenStack or OpenStack running on top of Kubernetes. … There is work that needs to take place at the networking level to get them to work together.”
“Long term, we see a place for containers,” Hornby said. “Today we are just working to get our applications ported to the cloud. Long term, as applications are broken up and decoupled there will be a place for containers.”
Unlike rival AT&T, Verizon has been quieter in terms of its software migration progress. Andre Fuetsch, president of AT&T Labs and CTO at the telecom giant, recently told SDxCentral the carrier could surpass its previous target of gaining software control over 75 percent of its network resources by 2020.
Despite the enthusiasm, Hornby indicated the market was still in its infancy in terms of work targeted at the traditional telecommunications space. This includes dealing with vendors that are at various stages of software maturity, and ongoing work around standards.
“While we would like to have a more disruptive approach and change everything from the ground up, the vendor community is not ready at this point,” Hornby said. “We have been working with them to get them ported to our network cloud and making sure we have a plan to get them there. Some are doing better than others, but standards are a challenge, and a lack of standards had made it difficult.”
Hornby noted management and network orchestration (MANO) remains one area in particular that continues to confound deployment plans.
“There is a lot of opportunity in terms of MANO,” Hornby said.
Another concern is that different approaches are being taken by large telecom operators. This includes internal work done by operators to solve their own issues that are then turned over to either open source communities or vendor-driven initiatives. Hornby explained these moves typically slow the overall market by stretching thin available resources.
Verizon itself is working with a number of open source initiatives and standards bodies to solidify work. However, Hornby said many are “still not far enough along at this point to see where we might want to fit in.”