On April 2nd, the O-RAN Alliance and the Linux Foundation jointly announced the creation of the O-RAN Software Community (O-RAN SC). The O-RAN SC will provide open software aligned with the O-RAN Alliance’s open architecture. As a new open source community under the Linux Foundation, the O-RAN SC is sponsored by the O-RAN Alliance, and together they will develop open source software enabling modular, open, intelligent, efficient, and agile disaggregated radio access networks. The initial set of software projects may include: near-real-time RAN intelligent controller (nRT RIC), non-real-time RAN intelligent controller (NRT RIC), cloudification and virtualization platforms, open central unit (O-CU), open distributed unit (O-DU), and a test and integration effort to provide a working reference implementation. Working with other adjacent open source networking communities, the O-RAN SC will enable collaborative development across the full operator network stack.
Background: The telecom industry is experiencing a profound transformation and 5G is expected to radically change how we live, work, and play. This means it’s critical to make network infrastructure commercially available as quickly as possible to ensure business success for operators. It’s time to turn to open source, as it is one of the most efficient ways to accelerate product development in a collaborative and cost-efficient way.
“This collaboration between the O-RAN Alliance and the Linux Foundation is a tremendous accomplishment that represents the culmination of years of thoughtful innovation around the next generation of networks,” said Andre Fuetsch, Chairman of the O-RAN Alliance, and President of AT&T Labs and Chief Technology Officer at AT&T. “The launch of the O-RAN SC marks the next phase of that innovation, where the benefits of disaggregated and software-centric platforms will move out to the edge of the network. This new open source community will be critical if 5G is to reach its full potential.”
“We are really excited to see the establishment of the O-RAN Open Source Community,” said Chih-Lin I, chief scientist of China Mobile, co-chair of the O-RAN Technical Steering Committee and member of the Executive Committee of the O-RAN Alliance. “The O-RAN Alliance is aiming at building an ‘Open’ and ‘Smart’ Radio Access Network for future wireless systems. From day one, the Alliance has embraced open source as one of the most powerful means to achieve its vision. The O-RAN Open Source Community is the fruit of a yearlong extensive deliberation between the O-RAN Alliance and the Linux Foundation. We believe that the power of open source will further the momentum and accelerate the development, test, commercialization and deployment of O-RAN solutions.”
“We are excited to collaborate with O-RAN Alliance in bringing communities together to create software for this important access area of Telecommunications,” said Arpit Joshipura, general manager, Networking, Edge & IOT, the Linux Foundation. “This step towards execution marks another major milestone in networking partnerships across standards and open source organizations.”
About O-RAN Alliance
The O-RAN Alliance is a world-wide, carrier-led effort to drive new levels of openness in the radio access network of next generation wireless systems. Future RANs will be built on a foundation of virtualized network elements, white-box hardware and standardized interfaces that fully embrace O-RAN’s core principles of intelligence and openness. An ecosystem of innovative new products is already emerging that will form the underpinnings of the multi-vendor, interoperable, autonomous RAN, envisioned by many in the past, but only now enabled by the global industry-wide vision, commitment and leadership of O-RAN Alliance members and contributors.
More information about O-RAN can be found at www.o-ran.org.
About the Linux Foundation
Founded in 2000, the Linux Foundation is supported by more than 1,000 members and is the world’s leading home for collaboration on open source software, open standards, open data, and open hardware. Linux Foundation’s projects are critical to the world’s infrastructure including Linux, Kubernetes, Node.js, and more. The Linux Foundation’s methodology focuses on leveraging best practices and addressing the needs of contributors, users and solution providers to create sustainable models for open collaboration. For more information please visit us at www.linuxfoundation.org.
Assessment of Open Networking:
While Open Source Software (e.g. ONAP from ONF, Sonic from OCP) and Hardware (from OCP, TIP, Open RAN consortiums, ONF, etc) for networking is advancing rapidly, Open Networking via SDN, NFV, SD-WAN is really a euphemism for closed networking. That’s because almost all such “Open Networks” are proprietary to either the service provider (e.g. Amazon, Google, AT&T, etc) or SD-WAN vendor (many).
Some hyper-scale cloud providers (e.g. Microsoft) use a mix of open source software and purpose built proprietary software. Others (like Amazon and Google) use only their own (proprietary) software. Open Networking hasn’t much of an impact on the enterprise network yet, because of complex support and training issues. It seems like the main beneficiary of open networking will be Facebook (which started the OCP and TIP) and global telcos/ISPs (e.g. Yahoo Japan).
Telco Focused Open Source Projects:
Telcos such as AT&T, Verizon, China Mobile, DTK, and others have embraced open source technologies to move faster into the future. And LF Networking is at the heart of this transformation. AT&T seems to be the leading open source software telco. The company contributed their own software on virtual networks as ONAP to the Linux Foundation. The project is now being used by in production by other companies, and AT&T in return is benefiting from the work the competitors are doing to improve the code base.
AT&T also led the effort on Project CORD (Central Office Rearchitected as a Data center). CORD combines NFV, SDN, and the elasticity of commodity clouds to bring data center economics and cloud agility to the Telco Central Office. CORD lets the network operator manage their Central Offices using declarative modeling languages for agile, real-time configuration of new customer services. Major service providers like AT&T, SK Telecom, Verizon, China Unicom and NTT Communications are already supporting CORD.
AT&T contributed to the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) work on multi-gigabit PON virtual optical line termination hardware abstraction (VOLTHA), which is an open source software stack for PON networks. ONF is now working on integrating the ONAP operating system with multi-gigabit passive optical networks. ONAP was created by the merger of the Open ECOMP platform created by AT&T Labs with a similar, preexisting open source development project.
AT&T and the ONF will build on ongoing field trials of XGS-PON technology designed to support speeds up to 10 Gbps. The current XGS-PON trial is testing multi-gigabit high-speed internet traffic and providing AT&T DirecTV NOW video to trial participants. “Collaboration and openness across AT&T, the ONF and VOLTHA teams will be key to bringing this 10 Gbps broadband network to customers faster,” said Igal Elbaz, AT&T senior vice president of wireless network architecture and design, in the press release. “Now that we’ve proven the viability of open access technology in our trials, we can start the integration with our operations and management automation platform – ONAP.
ONF also provides a variety of Reference Designs, which are are “blueprints” developed by ONF’s Operator members to address specific use cases for the emerging edge cloud. Each Reference Design is backed by specific network operator partner(s) who plan to deploy these designs into their production networks and will include participation from invited supply chain partners sharing the vision and demonstrating active investment in building open source solutions.
The Telecom Infra Project aims to collaborate on building new technologies, examining new business approaches, and spurring investment in the telecom space. TIP Project Groups are divided into three strategic networks areas that collectively make up an end-to-end network: Access, Backhaul, and Core and Management. TIP members include operators, suppliers, developers, systems integrators, startups, and other entities that have joined TIP to build new technologies and develop innovative approaches for deploying telecom network infrastructure. Most telco members are outside the U.S. However, Century Link, Cox Communications, Sprint, and Windstream are U.S. based members. Representatives from Deutsche Telekom, BT, Vodafone, and Telefonica are on the TIP Board of Directors.
Since its inception, the Open Compute Project (OCP) has worked to drive innovation in and around the data center industry, bringing together thousands of engineers from nearly two hundred member organizations. The demands on the modern data center continue to expand with the growth of IoT, security and edge computing, as well as increasing energy consumption requirements.
IHS Markit interviewed OCP members, suppliers and service providers, as well as incorporated their own in-depth industry research to determine revenue by region and vertical worldwide, as well as update their forecast through 2022. In order to ascertain a more accurate assessment of true marketplace adoption, usage by OCP Board member companies Facebook, Goldman Sachs, Intel, Microsoft and Rackspace was excluded from this study.
Among the preliminary findings:
· 2017 actual non-board revenue was $1.16 billion, just shy of the original forecast of $1.18 billion
· 2018 non-board OCP revenue tops the 2017 forecast, reaching $2.56 billion, compared to a forecast of $1.84 billion, with year-over-year growth of 120%
· 2017 Non-Board OCP revenue actuals show increased market share, from .87% to .91%, while overall Market Value dropped from $137 billion to $127 billion
· 2022 non-board OCP revenue share is expected to climb to more than 5% by 2022, at $10.7 billion, with a CAGR of 56%
· Servers, Storage and Networking are the fastest projected growth categories, with PON a potential high-growth area. Markets are just forming for disaggregated cell tower equipment, but Telco spend is expected to surpass Hyperscalers by 2021.
· The Government sector actually passed financial institutions in non-board OCP spending in 2017, while automotive and manufacturing is expected to have the highest 5-year CAGR. Healthcare is in the early stages of OCP adoption.
· There were no large changes in the forecast for regional growth – America’s still dominate due to Hyperscalers and Financial, but also now driven by Telco.
· APAC will surpass EMEA by 2020 with a CAGR of 108%, compared to EMEA at 59%.
Furthermore, the drivers of adoption of OCP are growing more diverse – cost reduction and power efficiency are still the biggest reasons why, but the market is now realizing that feature flexibility and conformance to those specifications approved by OCP provide a measure of “comfort” to the market.
“We are pleased that the adoption momentum continues and accelerates, and we value the insight provided by the study regarding barriers, challenges and opportunities. We are committed to continued improvement in the entire ecosystem to support the future growth.” stated Rocky Bullock, CEO for the Open Compute Project Foundation.
“The market ecosystem for OCP-certified equipment continues to mature, with more diversity for increased choice and an expanded supply chain allowing more tier-two CSPs, telcos and enterprise consumers to participate. A notable difference from last year’s study was the shift from direct factory purchasing to suppliers with local support, as additional market segments increased adoption,” said Cliff Grossner, Ph.D., executive director research and analysis, cloud and data center research practice at IHS Markit, a global business information provider. “OCP equipment market drivers such as serviceability, disaggregation and the flexibility to add new features took on a greater importance this year, which typically happens when a market matures and more mainstream buyers deploy.”
OCP and IHS Markit will release the full results of the research at the Annual OCP Global Summit, to be held in San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, CA March 14 – 15, 2019. This will include an Executive Track at 1:00 PM Pacific on Day 1 featuring the details of the findings to be presented by Cliff Grossner, and Vlad Galabov, Principle Analyst for Data Center Compute at IHS Markit.
“From 1876 to 2013 telecom and network equipment design was proprietary….We are now in the 3rd phase of open networking transformation,” said Arpit Joshipura, Linux Foundation GM of Networking at the 2018 OCP Summit. The network equipment design transformation is shown in the figure below:
During his OCP Summit keynote speech, Arpit announced a partnership between OCP and the Linux Foundation to further the development of software and hardware-based open source networking. The organizations will work together to create stronger integration and testing, new open networking features, more scalability, a reduction in CAPEX/OPEX, greater harmonization with switch network operating systems, and increased interoperability for network functions virtualization (NFV) network transformation.
Virtualization of network functions and the resulting disaggregation of hardware and software have created interest in open source at both layers. OCP provides an open source option for the hardware layer, and The Linux Foundation’s OPNFV project integrates OCP along with other open source software projects into relevant NFV reference architectures. Given this alignment, OCP and OPNFV already have been collaborating on activities such as plugfests and joint demos. Now they have committed to expanded collaborative efforts which will accelerate the megatrend of totally open networking.
“It’s exciting to see the principles of open source software development come to hardware, and OCP has already made a substantial contribution to some Linux Foundation project plugfests and demos,” said Arpit Joshipura in the referenced press release. “We see OCP as an integral partner as we explore new opportunities for NFV deployments, performance, features, and footprint. Global network operators agree and ranked OCP very high on a list of the most important projects for OPNFV in a recent survey. We look forward to continued and intensified collaboration across ecosystems.”
The key market disruptors- virtualization of equipment functions, software defined networking and disaggregation of equipment are shown below with the applicable software and hardware entities on the left, and sample open source projects on the right of the figure below.
Arpit said the drivers behind this huge move to open source software running on open source hardware are 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT). Mandatory automation of functions (e.g. provisioning and configuration) are (and will be) required to support the high speeds/low latency of 5G and the huge number of IoT endpoints.
The Linux Foundation Networking (LNF) group’s vision includes automating cloud services, network infrastructure, and IoT services as shown in this illustration:
The Linux Foundation Open Source Networking activities include participants from telecom carriers, cloud computing, and enterprises. As shown in the illustration below, 9 out of 10 of the most important projects of participants will use open source software with all 10 of the largest network equipment vendors actively involved and 60% of global subscribers represented. Shared innovation and a 15 minute “new service creation time” are selected goals of the LFN projects.
The .Linux Foundation is leading the way forward to harmonize open source software efforts and get them into the community. In the figure below, the services, software and infrastructure are shown on the left, the various open source projects are shown in the center, and the various standards organizations (but not the actual standards) are shown on the right. It should be duly noted that there are no official standards bodies working on open networking specifications to provide multi-vendor interoperability of exposed interfaces or even APIs within a single piece of equipment.
To clarify that point, Arpit wrote via email: “LFN (which hosts ONAP), is working on de-facto automation open source aspects independent of 5G/4G. The 5G services mandate automation due to IOT and new services that are coming up. The specific specs of 5G are out of scope for Networking Automation. OCP and LFN partnership is limited to what I spoke at the OCP Summit keynote.”
Note: There are more than 20 open source projects for networking currently active at the Linux Foundation (see above illustration). LF also has expanded lately into areas as diverse as software for IoT devices, storage and blockchain. It remains to be seen if the OCP – LNF partnership will create defacto standards (e.g. for virtualization of functions in 5G or IoT) or try to enforce interoperability through certification programs. The current motivation seems to come from carriers like AT&T which are demanding open source software on open source hardware to lower their CAPEX/OPEX and to improve automation of network functions.
Mr. Joshipura asserted that the LFN+OCP partnership would produce the very best of Open Source Software & Hardware. The total community collaboration will include: Hardware Vendors + Silicon Vendors + OEM/Manufacturers + Software Vendors, Systems Integrators + End Users.
Arpit provided a strong conclusion via email:
“Open source networking software is creating de-facto platforms that result in faster innovation across many IT communities. Collaboration between the leaders in open hardware (OCP) and Open Source Software (Linux Foundation Networking) will help propel this even further and broaden the scope of true open networking. This industry collaboration allows faster deployment, but still offers innovation on top.”