Last week, two new open source groups focusing on management and orchestration (MANO) of network functions virtualization (NFV) announced their existence: the Open Source Management (OSM) group hosted by ETSI, and Open-O hosted by the Linux Foundation.
At the press conference announcing Open-O, Yang Zhiqiang, deputy general manager of the China Mobile Research Institute, said the operation support system (OSS) will lead to open source software (OSS).
That’s a clever turn of phrase, but to what extent will existing operation support systems end up relying on open source software?
“The NFV orchestrator does not include OSS/BSS,” says Tetsuya Nakamura, one of the engineers who originally proposed the ETSI NFV architectural framework. “OSS/BSS is much broader, including end-to-end service delivery and touching on physical network functions with corresponding element management function.”
Oren Marmur, head of NFV at Amdocs, agrees. “Even according to the NFV MANO model, MANO is something that was interfaced with the legacy systems,” he says. “Some of the attempts are around creating an NFV orchestration layer that is open source. We’re involved in these standards groups, but I don’t see these going out as full-blown open source products.”
As far as OSS leading to OSS: “That is a bit of a stretch,” says Don Clarke, who co-founded the ETSI NFV Industry Specification Group (ISG). “Operators have huge investments in OSS/BSS optimized for their particular environment.
“Open source is important but only part of the story. There are going to be proprietary components — especially VNFs — and we want to mix and match best-in-class components coming from different vendors. And you have to touch physical assets that telecoms have, to create end-to-end services, so coexistence is necessary.”
Rather than replacing existing OSS systems with open source software, the two new MANO groups are more likely to focus on interfaces between the OSS/BSS and the new NFV infrastructure.
“Telco operators desire to create collaboration on interfaces and some overlay functionality as open source, to replace elements of different vendors,” says Marmur.
At the core of all their network transformation work — using NFV and software-defined networking (SDN) — is the desire to replace proprietary hardware with cheaper, commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware, managed with open source software. This combination will move operators away from the hated vendor-lock-in.
“Taking into account their existing OSS/BSS environment and their particular business imperatives means that each operator has different degrees of radicalness of how they’re going to transform their networks,” says Clarke.
“One challenge is they’re looking to the future view of virtualization where everything is virtual, but the problem is: That’s not the reality except with a few greenfield efforts,” says Justin Paul, head of OSS marketing with Amdocs. “The majority of service providers today have invested billions in legacy physical networks. Looking at it from a very purist way is not addressing the reality.”