Google leads Network Operator Consortium to Specify Automated, Vendor Neutral Provisioning/Configuration


Google’s keynote talk on this topic at last Thursday’s Light Reading New IP conference was very profound.  Google and its eight partners (identified below) in this OpenConfig initiative want to specify a vendor neutral type of provisioning & configuration system that will work with any type or brand of network equipment.  It’s called OpenConfig.  In this post, I provide a brief summary of why it’s important and to provide links to other articles about it.

Why it’s important:

For decades, telecom/datacom networks had two types of proprietary provisioning/configuration management:
1.  The network operator’s proprietary provisioning/network management system, which often involves manual intervention/lots of human inputs.
2.  The Element Management System (EMS) used by ALL network equipment vendors to configure and manage their own network gear.
Bikash Koley, PhD said Google’s current approach to provisioning/configuration its internal network involves 50-plus network devices, more than half-a dozen equipment vendors and multiple platforms for each. The configuration management requirements for all that equipment are overwhelming — Google alone makes over 1,000 configuration changes a day.  Clearly, that’s very time consuming and doesn’t scale well at all.

The 9 members of the Open Config Consortium:
The original four partners –Microsoft Corp, .AT&T Inc, BT Group and Google — have been joined by Cox Communications Inc, Facebook, Level 3 Communications Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and Comcast Corp.  In total, that’s nine “heavyweight” network operators!  Therefore, OpenConfig is an operator-driven collaboration that is moving quickly to remove roadblocks that hold all network operators back.

Here are the articles others have written about Koley’s New IP Keynote speech:


Whlie it’s quite impressive that 9  “heavyweight” network operators have joined this effort, many of them, e.g. AT&T and VZ, were behind the OIF UNI 1.0/2.0 & IETF G-MPLS & ITU-T G.ASON for automated, vendor neutral provisioning of optical network circuits/paths.  That didn’t happen due to network operator inertia to retain their own proprietary provisioning/configuration systems which often involved lots of manual inputs/keystrokes on terminals/PCs.

Will this time be different?  I believe it could be! This operator led initiative has a very good chance of succeding, IMHO!

1. AT&T’s SDN WAN:
2. NTT Com Leads all Network Providers in Deployment of SDN/OpenFlow; NFV Coming Soon

3. Here’s a link to most recent IEEE ComSocSCV session on Open Networking I helped organized and recruited the speakers (Guido & Christos).  Their presentos can be downloaded once you open the url. 

SDN & NFV -Oct 2014 meeting:

Anonymous Comment from IEEE Member Discussion Group (IEEE members may join for free at

“It will be interesting to see if Google can 1) hang together and play nicely, and if 2) if they can come to an agreement.  One must remember that, right now at least, Google has “googles” of money.  Not all their consortium pals are so flush.  This (in my opinion) would impact the kinds of decisions they make, based on who can afford the different options posed.  It might also impact how much involvement and dedication they can afford to put into the consortium.  I know that when things have gotten ‘tight’ in my former employment, cooperation with our competitors was one of the first things to get funding cuts, even if it was potentially beneficial to our company.  Most companies are worried about profits right now, and next quarter’s financial reports.  Worrying about next year is right out of the question.”