Deutsche Telekom is working with the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) and eight vendors to test software-defined radio access networks (SD-RAN) and Open RAN in what it calls a fully disaggregated system. This is the first field trial implementing fully disaggregated open RAN solutions using ONF’s RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) software platform as defined by the O-RAN architecture. This 4G and 5G Standalone (SA) outdoor trial is live at Deutsche Telekom in Berlin, Germany.
In addition, the Facebook-backed Telecom Infra Project (TIP) is taking part by providing hardware and facilities out of the TIP Community Lab in Berlin hosted by Deutsche Telekom.
Carriers are investing in open RAN to enable a new breed of modular and customizable 5G solutions to accelerate innovation and enable the mix-and-match of best-of-breed components from multiple vendors. Open RAN gives operators choice and flexibility to customize and optimize their networks. This SD-RAN trial hosted by DT highlights the promise and flexibility of open RAN by integrating components from eight companies: AirHop, Edgecore, Facebook, Foxconn, Intel, Radisys, Supermicro and Wiwynn. Additionally, the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) is participating by providing hardware and facilities out of the TIP Community Lab in Berlin hosted by DT. The on-site field trial integration and testing is being coordinated and supported by Highstreet Technologies.
The live trial features horizontally disaggregated hardware (separate RU, DU, and CU units), as well as vertically disaggregated software components including an open source near real-time RIC (nRT-RIC) and xApps coming from the ONF’s SD-RAN project. By integrating proprietary and open source components, including a near real-time RIC and xApps, this ground-breaking trial exemplifies a model for how future open RAN deployments are envisioned to take shape.
The entirety of the trial is operationalized leveraging ONF’s Aether platform, a centrally-managed, multi-cloud, cloud-native platform providing Connectivity-as-a-Service, and highlights network slicing with multiple UPFs running at the edge. The SD-Core component of Aether provides 5G connectivity and the control plane running from the public cloud while SD-Fabric is a fully programmable network fabric optimized for the edge cloud used to instantiate a P4-based 4G/5G UPF in hardware.
Aether hosts the Radisys containerized CU while the Intel® Smart Edge Open (formerly known as OpenNESS) software toolkit hosts the Radisys DU to enable cloud-native deployment of the RAN workload with optimization on the 3rd Gen Intel® Xeon® Scalable processor and Intel® vRAN Dedicated Accelerator ACC100. The CU and DU are integrated with ONF’s nRT-RIC, xApps, SD-Core 5G core and Foxconn O-RU.
“The Berlin SD-RAN Open RAN Trial, is a momentous step towards realizing the vision of fully disaggregated and intelligent RAN, leveraging ONF’s leading open source RAN Intelligent Controller software platform. In addition to open fronthaul, this trial includes disaggregated RU/DU/CU units, and also vertically disaggregates the RIC and xApps according to SDN principles. Together, we are demonstrating the power of truly open RAN and ecosystem collaboration to accelerate innovation.”
– Alex Choi, Senior Vice President Strategy & Technology Innovation, Deutsche Telekom and Founding Board Member, O-RAN Alliance
“The SD-RAN Berlin Trial with DT is a significant industry milestone for open RAN. At ONF we are seeing tremendous interest from the mobile community for our open source implementation of the O-RAN architecture, and this trial demonstrates the maturity of the SD-RAN open source RIC and xApp development platform.”
– Guru Parulkar, Executive Director, ONF
“AirHop is thrilled to be participating in this DT SD-RAN trial. We are contributing commercially hardened 5G xApps that work with the complete Open RAN end-to-end solution. The trial demonstrates that commercial xApps can be quickly integrated and deployed using O-RAN defined standard interfaces to deliver automated performance optimization.”
– Yan Hui, CEO, AirHop
“Open systems are the future, and Edgecore is pleased to be leading the charge and to be providing open network hardware that is running software from ONF as part of this DT SD-RAN trial. It has been amazing working with this dynamic community, and a real pleasure to be collaborating with DT on this effort.”
– Jeff Catlin, VP of Technology, Edgecore Networks
“We are excited to see multiple ecosystem partners collaborating to test and trial this disaggregated Open RAN solution. We have made great progress with the RIC-xApp portability paradigm and we look forward to continuing to make contributions to the SD-RAN project.”
– Manish Singh, Head of Wireless Ecosystem Programs, Facebook
“Foxconn has contributed the Radio Units (RUs) that are deployed in the SD-RAN trial. Given that this represents the first deployment of a truly disaggregated RAN solution, we’ve been very pleased with the collaboration and commitment shown by the whole SD-RAN community.”
– Dr. Benjamin Wang, Sr. 5G RD Director, Infrastructure Product Division, Foxconn
“Our long-standing collaboration with ONF and its partners reflects our priority to collaborate with the Open Source community and aligns very well to initiatives such as Intel Smart Edge Open® targeted for open innovation and developer acceleration. It is great to see an entire portfolio of Intel technologies enabling ONF SD-RAN and SD-Core ranging from Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors, vRAN accelerators to software offerings such as Intel® FlexRAN and Smart Edge Open® get featured in this trial, paving the way to the next wave of disaggregated and intelligent networks.”
– Renu Navale, VP & GM in the Network Platforms Group, Intel
“The OCP and ONF have a synergistic relationship, with OCP focused on open hardware and ONF focused on open software that can run on OCP hardware. The SD-RAN trial with DT exemplifies this relationship, demonstrating OCP Inspired™ openEdge servers from Wiwynn, an OCP Certified Solution Provider, running critical components of the SD-RAN solution.”
– Steve Helvie, VP of Channel, Open Compute Project (OCP)
“As a founding member of the SD-RAN initiative with ONF, Radisys is excited to participate in this important SD-RAN trial at DT, demonstrating use cases of RAN optimization and multi-vendor interoperability. We worked closely with the ONF community to develop service models, use cases and in the end-to-end integration of this field trial. This is a significant step towards commercial adoption of O-RAN based solutions by operators.”
– Arun Bhikshesvaran, CEO, Radisys
“Supermicro is excited to have our servers included in the SD-RAN Berlin trial. This trial is a significant step in realizing the potential of open RAN, and it has provided a great opportunity for multi-vendor collaboration and learning. We are a strong supporter of open source and disaggregation, and believe that it is essential for enabling 5G edge, core and cloud networks.”
– Jeff Sharpe, Director, 5G / IoT Edge Solutions, Supermicro
“TIP is pleased to be collaborating to support the SD-RAN Berlin Trial. The RIA sub-group of the TIP OpenRAN project is prioritizing use cases for open RAN that are being highlighted by this effort, so we see terrific synergies working with ONF and the broader SD-RAN community to support this first-of- its-kind trial featuring a multi-vendor mix of RU/DU/CU controlled by an open RIC and xApps.”
– Attilio Zani, Executive Director, Telecom Infra Project
“Wiwynn is pleased to be providing our edge cloud optimized servers as part of the DT SD-RAN trial. These systems are designed for edge and telco applications, and are certified by ONF for the Aether platform used for this DT trial. We are committed to building solutions optimized for open RAN deployments, and we’re very excited to see this DT trial advancing the state-of-the-art for open RAN.”
-Steven Lu, Senior Vice President, Wiwynn
DEUTSCHE TELEKOM SD-RAN TRIAL EVENT:
ONF and DT will be co-hosting a virtual event October 19th offering an in-depth view into the trial and key learnings from the community. Featuring live keynotes and on-demand talks from operator and vendor leaders from across the open RAN movement. Register to hear about lessons learned directly from the experts who have deployed the first trial of its kind! The event is open to anyone.:
Deutsche Telekom SD-RAN Trial – Webinar
October 19th, 2021
5pm CEST, 11am EDT, 8am PDT
Ananki plans to deliver software defined private 5G that is purpose built for the Industry 4.0 revolution, encompasng M2M mobile networks, IoT, and related communication initiatives.
- Private 5G is the key to empowering the machine-to-application communications necessary to complete this vision, according to the ONF.
- Industry 4.0 is a combination of intelligent devices, edge cloud and cloud-based AI/ML which is intended to enable software-based optimization and innovation.
Ananki’s Software-Defined Private 5G+ was said to deliver:
● Optimized 5G+ Experience – Software-defined, automated, AI powered, application optimized connectivity, with enhanced security enabled by a programmable data plane.
● Cloud First – pre-integrated with hyperscaler cloud and edge, delivering private 5G as a SaaS service, creating a continuously improving experience running on any multi-cloud platform.
● Industry 4.0 Ready – Empowering developers to build transformative IoT, IIoT and OT solutions with rich APIs.
Ananki’s technological foundation leverages ONF’s open source Aether™, SD-RAN™, SD-Fabric™ and SD-Core™ projects, and melds them together into a commercial offering that is delivered as a SaaS, making private 5G as easy to consume as wifi for enterprises. ONF also incorporates developer APIs to accelerate the creation of more powerful digital transformation solutions. This open platform is hardened and optimized for industrial applications, and introduces developer APIs to empower the creation of more powerful digital transformation solutions.
— Ananki delivers slice/device level SLA assurance for mission critical applications.
— Proactively identify network bottlenecks before they impact your application performance.
— Define application priority once and let Ananki (Self healing/optimizing/organizing network) deliver optimal application performance.
— CI/CD lets you dynamically upgrade your service to handle evolving application requirements and security threats.
— Telco grade security and resilience to Enterprise operational networks with AI/Ops fault and detection.
When ONF’s Aether was selected for the $30M Pronto Project, DARPA encouraged ONF to commercialize the platform in order to advance the impact of the project’s secure 5G research. To date, ONF has operationalized and deployed Aether at 15 locations operating as a cloud managed service.
To accelerate Aether’s adoption, the ONF board voted unanimously to create a new separate venture backed commercial entity to provide an enhanced, hardened solution so vendors and partners can easily incorporate private 5G into the solutions they then build and deliver to enterprises.
Ananki, has been structured as a Public Benefit Corporation to support and promote open source. Furthermore, Ananki shares common executives with the ONF, ensuring that a consistent vision and mission keeps the two entities well aligned.
Andre Fuetsch, ONF Board Chair and AT&T CTO:
“ONF continues to innovate in ways that magnify the power of open systems and open source across our industry. The ONF board recognizes that the lack of support for open source initiatives from commercial companies remains an inhibiting factor for scaled adoption. To meet this challenge, we have agreed to spin out Ananki as an independent company to pursue commercialization of Aether with a view that this will help accelerate the adoption and impact of open source.”
Guru Parulkar, Executive Director ONF and CEO of Ananki:
“Ananki is broadening the impact of the ONF’s work, and will help ONF’s Aether become much more broadly adopted. By providing a commercially supported option for consuming Aether, many more organizations will be able to easily and economically leverage the benefits of Private 5G for building Industry 4.0 solutions. And in turn, Ananki is committed to contributing back to the ONF open source, helping to advance the Aether platform and broaden the ONF community.”
Ananki delivers a commercially supported Software-Defined Private 5G as-a-service to help facilitate enterprise digital transformation. As a Public Benefit Corporation, Ananki synergistically builds on Open Networking Foundation (ONF) open source software platforms, and in turn contributes focus, funding, developers and contributions to the ONF projects. With Ananki, companies can now choose a commercially supported option when consuming ONF open source.
About the Open Networking Foundation:
The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is an operator-led consortium spearheading disruptive network transformation. Now the recognized leader for open source solutions for operators, the ONF first launched in 2011 as the standard bearer for Software-Defined Networking (SDN). Led by its operator partners AT&T, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Google, NTT Group and Türk Telekom, the ONF is driving vast transformation across the operator space. For further information visit http://www.opennetworking.org
LF Networking (LFN), which facilitates collaboration and operational excellence across open source networking projects, today announced seven new member organizations and one associate member have joined the community to collaborate on the 5G Super Blue Print initiative.
The 5G Super Blueprint project covers RAN, Edge, and Core and enables solutions for enterprises and verticals, large institutional organizations, and more. While Networking provides platforms and building blocks across the networking industry that enable rapid interoperability, deployment, and adoption. Participation in this nexus for 5G innovation and integration is open to anyone.
The new members are:
AQSACOM, a leader in Cyber Intelligence software solutions for communications service providers (CSPs) and law enforcement agencies (LEAs);
Radtronics, which provides secure and powerful private wireless network for Maximum Productivity with new applications and services, through Outcome based and cost efficient solutions enabled by strong innovation;
Turnuium, which enables channel partners to connect people, data, and applications through its turnkey multi-carrier managed SD-WAN;
SEMPRE, which secures 5G for critical infrastructure by moving compute to the edge and leveraging military-grade technology—the only HEMP-hardened 5G gNODEB with Edge; and
Wavelabs, a new-age technology company for the Digital, Cognitive & Industry 4.0 Era have joined LFN at the Silver level. New Associate members include: the Oman government’s Ministry of Transportation, Communications & Information Technology;
ICE Group’s (state telecommunications and energy operator of Costa Rica)
ANTTEC (ICE Group’s main union of technicians and engineers); and
High School Technology Services, which offers coding and technology training to students and adults, have joined as Associate members.
“As the center platform for enabling open source 5G building blocks, collaboration and integration is more important than ever for LFN, amplified by our recent developer event in early June,” said Arpit Joshipura, general manager, Networking, Edge and IoT, the Linux Foundation. “This impressive roster of new members across intelligence, government, enterprise and more are welcome additions to the LFN community. We look forward to continued collaboration that enables rapid interoperability, deployment, and adoption of 5G across the ecosystem.”
Leveraging the convergence of major initiatives in the 5G space, and building on a long-running 5G Cloud Native Network demo work stream, LF Networking is leading a community-driven integration and proof of concept involving multiple open source initiatives in order to show end-to-end use cases demonstrating implementation architectures for end users.
In April, the Linux Foundation and the World Bank launched an online course: 5G and Emerging Technologies for Public Service Delivery & Digital Economy Operations – Fundamentals of 5G Networks: Implications for Practitioners. The course is now available on the World Bank’s Open Learning Campus here. Aimed at decision makers and development practitioners, the course provides an introduction to open source and the critical role it plays in today’s networks.
Learn more about the 5G Super Blue Print during the Open Networking & Edge (ONE) Summit, the ONE event for end to end connectivity solutions powered by open source and enables the collaborative development necessary to shape the future of networking and edge computing. Taking place October 11-12, 2021 in Los Angeles, Calif., Registration will open soon.
New Member Support:
“With the dramatic growth of Private Wireless LTE and 5G networks over the coming years, the Open Source community will play a transformational role, which is the reason we’re joining the Linux Foundation Networking,” said Peter Lejon, co-founder of RADTONICS AB. “5G technology will have a huge impact on our future, driving positive changes for all of us. With enterprise and regional operators procuring solutions direct from the solutions providers, initiatives like 5G Super Blueprint and Magma Packet Core will be instrumental in serving a rapidly developing market that will include the next billion users on their journey of capturing value through digitalization. We believe that through Open Source and by working together, we can further accelerate the current pace of innovation and development. Change will never be this slow again,” added Lejon.
Marcus Owenby, SEMPRE’s Global CTO, affirmed “SEMPRE’s support for 5G Super Blueprint will enable enterprise and government organizations to leverage open source technology, while also securing 5G using military-grade technology purpose-built to protect critical infrastructure.”
“Wavelabs.ai is an ardent proponent of the ‘OPEN X’ network vision. We work with the entire ecosystems of clients & partners as an engaged, committed, and collaborative partner to realize 5G open and disaggregated ‘White Box’ network as a reality” said Mansoor Khan, CEO of Wavelabs. “LF Networking open-source 5G initiatives address major opportunities today and tomorrow. We believe this partnership will strengthen Wavelabs mission in accelerating the Journey to Future Connectivity by offering the unique blend of next-generation Digital, Cognitive, and Network technology services and solutions”
The premier event in optical telecom—the 2021 Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exhibition (OFC) concluded last week. The virtual event drew over 6,500 registrants from 83 countries.
“OFC 2021 saw technology announcements and technical presentations spanning the optical communications ecosystem, including advancements in optoelectronic devices, packaging and digital signal processing that are all rapidly evolving to achieve 800G and beyond, as well as those in architectures and algorithms towards more intelligent optical networking,” said Jun-ichi Kani, OFC General Chair, NTT, Japan. “OFC is the only event where attendees can access the full spectrum of trends shaping the industry and the way we connect across the globe.”
Speakers presented breakthroughs in many areas, including 400/ZR+, 800G, co-packaged optics, embedded optics, next-gen optical access, silicon photonics, space-division multiplexing, data center networks, automation and intelligence in networks and more. Sessions on quantum science and technologies, sensor applications and free space optics appealed to a large audience and enriched the OFC experience. Recorded sessions are available to registrants as on-demand content for 60 days following the close of the event.
“OFC is the go-to event for the optics industry,” said Jimmy Yu, vice president, Dell’Oro Group. “From the thought-provoking panel discussions to the product announcements, OFC has always been the place where I learn about emerging technologies.”
Technology experts from global leaders II-VI, Broadcom, Ciena, Cisco, Corning, Innolight, Intel, Juniper Networks, Lumentum, NeoPhotonics, Nokia and Ribbon discussed developments in hardware and software-based networking solutions in daily briefings with leading analysts, Sterling Perrin, Heavy Reading; Ian Redpath, OMDIA; Andrew Schmitt, Cignal AI; Jimmy Yu, Dell’Oro Group and Vladimir Kozlov, LightCounting. The videos can be viewed here.
The TIP sub-group said multi-vendor integration and services operations “were achieved through open standard models and APIs supported by the Optical SDN Controller, including Transport-API, OpenConfig and Open REST.”
“This proof of concept is an important milestone in the journey to fully open and disaggregated optical networking. It offers new levels of visibility and a way to manage the entire multi-vendor environment,” commented Christoph Glingener, CTO at ADVA.
Technology Showcases from 3M, AIM Photonics, Corning, EFFECT Photonics, Infinera, Jabil, Juniper Networks, Keysight Technologies, Lumentum, Luna Innovations, Murata, Nokia, Pi, Renesas, Ribbon, Samtec, Sicoya, Synopsys, Tektronix, Telescent and Xilinx gave deep dives into their cutting-edge products.
OFC 2021 exhibitor news announcements are posted to the OFC Newsroom.
Innovations in Optics
Leading researchers from around the world presented technical peer-reviewed papers, including:
- Trans-Atlantic Real-Time Field Trial Using Super-Gaussian Constellation-Shaping to Enable 30 Tb/s+ Capacity — A team of researchers from Infinera Corporation, USA and Facebook demonstrated a record-breaking transatlantic transmission across MAREA.
- A Latency-Aware Real-Time Video Surveillance Demo: Network Slicing for Improving Public Safety — Researchers presented a latency-aware optical metro network having sophisticated monitoring and data analytics capabilities and discussed the network architecture and enabling technologies, as well as a video surveillance case of the system.
- Demonstration of 100Gbit/s Real-Time Ultra High Definition Video Transmission Over Free Space Optical Communication Links — A team of researchers discussed how they achieved real-time FSO transmission of an ultrahigh-definition video stream between two buildings in Beijing.
- 224-Gb/s PAM4 Uncooled Operation of Lumped-electrode EA-DFB Lasers with 2-km Transmission for 800GbE Application — Researchers at Lumentum showed how they developed an optical solution that uses four 200 Gbps wavelength lanes to reach 800 GbE.
Post Deadline Papers looked to the future with developments in high-speed individual LEDs, modulated lasers, record low loss in hollow core fibers for applications in power delivery and sensing and other topic areas important to industry.
Analysts also revealed their recent findings around the sector to coincide with the event. For instance, Cignal AI suggested there have been strong gains in switching and routing spending by operators in the first quarter of the year, but these were offset by the slightly weaker deployment of optical transport gear.
Scott Wilkinson, lead analyst for transport hardware at Cignal AI, noted that “Chinese spending on optical hardware has plateaued as major 5G network builds mature and new projects have not been initiated.” He added that the country’s “extraordinary growth during 2015 to 2018 could not continue long term due to the impracticality of expanding upon the enormous amounts that had been spent in the region.”
In general, analysts reported subdued activity by Chinese operators across all product categories after last year’s strong growth, while most other territories showed a rebound this quarter.
OFC 2022 will be held 06 – 10 March at the San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA.
For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Deutsche Telekom (DT) recently announced its Access 4.0 (A4) platform began providing services to customers in Stuttgart in December 2020. This marks a major milestone in DT’s efforts building a state-of-the-art disaggregated broadband solution that blends open source and vendor proprietary components into a production-grade highly optimized solution for providing FTTx services.
Deutsche Telekom’s Access 4.0 is the next generation of software-defined access networking. The program constitutes a true paradigm shift, not only in terms of technology but also ecosystem, collaboration, and agility. By leveraging an edge cloud approach, we create a cost-efficient, lean-to-operate, and scalable access platform to deliver gigabit products. It works in our labs and in an early field trial.
A key foundational building block of A4 is ONF’s Virtual OLT Hardware Abstraction (VOLTHA) open source software controlled by the ONF’s ONOS SDN Controller and a set of ONOS Apps. This VOLTHA stack enables operators to extend software defined programming to the fixed access network, and makes it possible to embrace a best-of-breed approach to selection of white box network equipment. In addition to this open source stack, ONF’s SDN-Enabled Broadband Access (SEBA) Reference Design documents the architecture and framework used to assemble open solutions such as DT’s.
VOLTHA™ is an open source project to create a hardware abstraction for broadband access equipment. It supports the principle of multi-vendor, disaggregated, “any broadband access as a service” for the Central Office. VOLTHA currently provides a common, vendor agnostic, GPON control and management system, for a set of white-box and vendor-specific PON hardware devices. With the upcoming introduction of access Technology Profiles, VOLTHA will support other access technologies like EPON, NG-PON2 and G.Fast as well.
VOLTHA, operational in the A4 network, has been developed as a joint effort between ONF, ONF operator partners (particularly AT&T, Deutsche Telekom and Turk Telekom), and additional members and vendors in the VOLTHA ecosystem. The role of the operators is key in shaping the architecture and requirements for VOLTHA and SEBA with their sharing of insight learned in field trials and early commercial deployments. This collaboration has helped to improve, harden and scale VOLTHA and SEBA.
SEBA™ is a lightweight platform based on a variant of R-CORD. It supports a multitude of virtualized access technologies at the edge of the carrier network, including PON, G.Fast, and eventually DOCSIS and more. SEBA supports both residential access and wireless backhaul and is optimized such that traffic can run ‘fastpath’ straight through to the backbone without requiring VNF processing on a server.
- Kubernetes based
- High Speed
- Operationalized with FCAPS and OSS Integration
“Deutsche Telekom is reaching an important milestone in its transformation into a software-based telecommunications provider,” explains Walter Goldenits, CTO Telekom Deutschland, adding, “We are thus consistently shaping the path taken by the industry toward solutions based on open and disaggregated components in the fixed network area as well.”
Abdurazak Mudesir, head of Services & Platforms and Access Disaggregation at Deutsche Telekom Technik, adds: “Disaggregation is now a reality. For the first time we’re producing a BNG on Whitebox hardware and are using software-defined networking technology to control that gateway. That’s a hugely important step toward our broadband network’s future structure. With the software-defined approach of Access 4.0 we’re driving forward automation and can implement lean processes ourselves in combination with our OSS platforms.”
Access 4.0 is primarily tailored to Deutsche Telekom’s broadband internet access for FTTH/B. This use case marks, however, just the start of the transformation. The underlying A4 platform technology should in future be able to support other applications at the network edge, especially in the 5G and Open RAN environment. The next step will see the project team focus on honing the platform for rollout in other regions.
In a move that will help promote multi-vendor interoperability, the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) today announced the formation of the SD-RAN project (Software Defined Radio Access Network) to pursue the creation of open source software platforms and multi-vendor solutions for mobile 4G and 5G RAN deployments. Initially, the project will focus on building an open source Near Real-Time RAN Intelligent Controller (nRT-RIC) compatible with the O-RAN architecture.
The new SD-RAN project is backed by a consortium of leading operators and aligned technology companies and organizations that together are committed to creating a truly open RAN ecosystem. Founding members include AT&T, China Mobile, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, Google, Intel, NTT, Radisys and Sercomm. All the project members will be actively contributing, and this includes the operators contributing use cases and trialing the results, according to the ONF. However, the larger cellular base station vendors that are ONF members, Nokia, Samsung, ZTE, Fujitsu, NEC were silent on their participation in this SD-RAN project.
There may be some confusion caused by ONF’s SD-RAN project as it is the third Open RAN consortium. The O-RAN Alliance and TIP Open RAN project are working on open source hardware and open interfaces for disaggregated RAN equipment, like a 4G/5G combo base station.
In a brief video chat yesterday, Timon Sloane, VP of Ecosystem and Marketing for ONF told me that this new ONF SD-RAN project would be in close contact with the other two Open RAN consortiums and distinguished itself from them by producing OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE for disaggregated RAN equipment—something he said the O-RAN Alliance and TIP Open RAN project were NOT doing.
That should go a long way in dispelling that confusion, but it nonetheless presents a challenge on how three consortiums can effectively work together to produce meaningful open source software code (ONF) and hardware (O-RAN Alliance and TIP) specifications with joint compliance testing to ensure multi-vendor interoperability.
Sloane told Matt Kapko of SDXCentral: “The operators really are pushing for separation of hardware and software and for enabling new innovations to come in in software without it being tightly coupled to the hardware that they purchase. And xApps are where the functionality of the RAN is to be housed, and so in order to do this in a meaningful way you have to be able to do meaningful functions in these xApps,” Sloane said.
However, no mention was made in the ONF press release of a liaison with either 3GPP or ITU-R WP5D which are producing the standards and specs for 5G and have already done so for 4G-LTE. Neither of the aforementioned O-RAN consortiums have liaisons with those entities either.
There are other complications with Open RAN (independent of SD-RAN), such as U.S. government’s attempt to cripple Huawei and other China telecom equipment vendors, need for a parallel wireless infrastructure, legacy vs greenfield carriers. These are addressed in Comment and Analysis section below.
Central to the project is the development of an open source near-real time RIC called µONOS-RIC (pronounced “micro-ONOS-RIC”).
µONOS is a microservices-based SDN controller created by the refactoring and enhancement of ONOS, the leading SDN controller for operators in production tier-1 networks worldwide. µONOS-RIC is built on µONOS, and hence features a cloud-native design supporting active-active clustering for scalability, performance and high availability along with the real-time capabilities needed for intelligent RAN control.
µONOS-RIC is designed to control an array of multi-vendor open RAN equipment consistent with the O-RAN ALLIANCE architecture. In particular, the O-RAN ALLIANCE E2 interface is used to interface between µONOS-RIC and vendor supplied RAN RU/DU/CU RAN components.
xApps running on top of the µONOS-RIC are responsible for functionality that traditionally has been implemented in vendor-proprietary implementations. A primary goal of the SD-RAN project (and, not coincidentally, for the operators who founded the O-RAN consortium) is to enable an external intelligent controller to control the RAN so that operators have both visibility and control over their RAN networks, thus giving operators ownership and control over how spectrum is utilized and optimized along with the tools to deliver an optimal experience for users and applications.
Relationship to O-RAN Alliance, O-RAN Software Community and TIP:
The participating members of the SD-RAN project plan to implement, prototype and trial an advanced architecture that enables intelligent RIC xApps to control a broad spectrum of SON and RRM functionality that historically has been implemented as vendor-proprietary features on bespoke base station equipment and platforms. SD-RAN’s focus and goals are complementary to various efforts across the industry, including work taking place within the O-RAN ALLIANCE, the O-RAN Software Community and the TIP OpenRAN Project Group.
SD-RAN will follow O-RAN specifications as they are developed and will also make use of components of existing open source to facilitate interoperability. As the project pioneers new functionality, all extensions and learnings that come from building the system will be contributed back to O-RAN ALLIANCE, with the intent that these extensions can inform and advance the O-RAN specifications.
The SD-RAN work inside the ONF community will take place in parallel with work being contributed to the O-RAN Software Community. The intent is for interoperable implementations to come out of both efforts, so that a mix of open source and vendor proprietary components can be demonstrated and ultimately deployed.
Timing and Availability:
The SD-RAN project already has a working skeleton prototype of the µONOS-RIC controller above a RAN emulation platform through the E2 interface. This implementation is demonstrating handover and load balancing at scale, supporting over 100 base stations and 100,000 user devices with less than 50ms handover latency (less than 10ms latency for 99% of all handovers).
The SD-RAN community is advancing towards a field trial by early 2021, working with RAN vendors to integrate carrier-grade RU/DU/CU components while in parallel implementing xApps to demonstrate SON and RRM functionality. Interested parties are encouraged to contact ONF for additional information.
Quotes Supporting the SD-RAN Project:
“AT&T strongly supports the development of specifications and components that can help drive openness and innovation in the RAN ecosystem. The O-RAN ALLIANCE’s specifications are enabling the ecosystem, with a range of companies and organizations creating both open source and proprietary implementations that are bringing the open specifications to life. The ONF SD-RAN project, along with the O-RAN OSC, will expand the ecosystem with an nRT-RIC that can support xApps and help demonstrate their interoperability. This project will help accelerate the transition to an open RAN future.”
Andre Fuetsch, President and Chief Technology Officer, AT&T Labs
“China Mobile co-founded O-RAN in order to promote both the opening of the RAN ecosystem for multi-vendor solutions and the realization of RAN with native intelligence for performance and cost improvement. An open nRT-RIC with support for open xApps that go beyond policy-based control and SON to also enhance Radio Resource Management (RRM) will make it possible for operators to optimize resource utilization and application performance. We are excited to see the development of an open nRT-RIC and xApps in the SD-RAN project led by ONF, and expect this work to help advance the state-of-art for open and intelligent RAN.”
Dr. Chih-Lin I, Chief Scientist, Wireless Technologies, China Mobile
“China Unicom has been a long-term partner with ONF. We continue to see the benefits of the ONF’s work and the impact it has on our industry. The SD-RAN project is now applying the ONF’s proven strategy for disaggregating and creating open source implementations to the 5G RAN space in order to foster innovation and ecosystem transformation. We are excited by this work, and are committed to trialing a solution as it becomes available.”
Dr. Xiongyan Tang, Network Technology Research Institute, China Unicom
“Deutsche Telekom is a huge believer in applying disaggregation and open source principles for our next-generation networks. DT has ONF’s mobile core platform (OMEC) in production and we are taking ONF’s broadband access (SEBA/VOLTHA) platform to production towards the end of 2020. This journey has shown us the tremendous value that is created when we can build solutions based on interoperable multi-vendor components intermixed with open source components. ONF’s SD-RAN project is leveraging these same principles to help accelerate innovation in the RAN domain, and we are excited to be an active collaborator in this journey.”
Dr. Alex Jinsung Choi, SVP Strategy & Technology Innovation, Deutsche Telekom
“Connectivity is an integral part of Facebook’s focus to bring people closer together. We work closely with partners to develop programs and technologies that make connectivity more affordable and accessible. Through our collaboration with ONF on their SD-RAN project, we look forward to engaging with the community to improve connectivity experiences for many people around the world.”
Aaron Bernstein, Facebook’s Director of Connectivity Ecosystem Programs
“Google is an advocate for SDN, disaggregation and open source, and we are excited to see these principles now being applied to the RAN domain. ONF’s SD-RAN project’s ambition to create an open source RIC can help invigorate innovation across the mobile domain.”
Ankur Jain, Distinguished Engineer, Google
“Intel is an active participant of the ONF’s SD-RAN project to advance the development of open RAN implementations on high volume servers. ONF has been leading the industry with advanced open source implementations in the areas of disaggregated Mobile Core, e.g. the Open Mobile Evolved Core (OMEC), and we look forward to continuing to innovate by applying proven principles of disaggregation, open source and AI/ML to the next stepping stone in this journey – the RAN. SD-RAN will be optimized to leverage powerful performance, AI/ML, and security enhancements, which are essential for 5G and available in Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors, network adapters and switching technologies, including Data-Plane Development Kit (DPDK) and Intel® Software Guard Extensions (Intel SGX).”
Pranav Mehta, Vice President of Systems and Software Research, Intel Labs
“NTT sees great value in transforming the RAN domain in order to foster innovation and multi-vendor interoperability. We are excited to be part of the SD-RAN ecosystem, and look forward to working with the community to develop open source components that can be intermixed with vendor proprietary elements using standard O-RAN interfaces.”
Dai Kashiwa, Evangelist, Director of NTT Communications
“Radisys is excited to be a founding member of the SD-RAN project, and we are committed to integrating our RAN software implementation (CU & DU) with O-RAN interfaces to the µONOS-RIC controller and xApps being developed by the SD-RAN project community. This effort has the potential to accelerate the adoption of O-RAN based RIC implementation and xApps, and we are committed to working with this community to advance the open RAN agenda.”
Arun Bhikshesvaran, CEO, Radisys
“As a leading manufacturer of small cell RAN equipment and an avid supporter of the open RAN movement, Sercomm is excited to collaborate with the SD-RAN community to open E2 interfaces and migrate some of our near-real-time functionalities from the RAN equipment into xApps running the μONOS-RIC controller. This is a nascent yet dynamic area full of potential, and we are committed to working with the SD-RAN ecosystem to build solutions ready for trials and deployment.”
Ben Lin, CTO and Co-Founder, Sercomm
“TIP’s OpenRAN solutions are an important element of our work to accelerate innovation across all elements of the network including Access, Transport, Core and Services. We are excited about the collaboration between our RIA subgroup and ONF’s SD-RAN project to accelerate RAN disaggregation and adoption of open interfaces. Through this collaboration we will enable the OpenRAN ecosystem to leverage the strengths of data science and AI/ML technologies to set new industry benchmarks on performance, efficiency and total cost of ownership.”
Attilio Zani, Executive Director for Telecom Infra Project (TIP)
Comment and Analysis of Open RAN Market:
Disclaimer: Like all IEEE Techblog posts, opinions, comment and analysis are ALWAYS by the authors and do NOT EVER represent an opinion or position by IEEE or the IEEE Communications Society. This should be obvious to all in the 11 1/2 years of this author’s contribution to the IEEE Techblog and its predecessor- ComSoc Community blogs.
Besides NOT having a liaison with either 3GPP or ITU-R, the following Open RAN issues may limit its market potential. These are NOT specific to the ONF SD-RAN project, but generic to Open RAN deployments.
- U.S. officials promoting Open RAN as a way to decrease the dominance of Huawei, the world’s biggest vendor of mobile equipment by market share and also to thwart the rise of other vendors like ZTE and China Information and Communication Technology Group (CICT) which recently won a small part of s China Mobile contract. Obviously, China’s government will fight back and NOT allow any version of Open RAN to be deployed in China (likely to be the world’s biggest 5G market by far)! That despite China Mobile and China Unicom’s expressed interest in Open RAN (see Quotes above). Remember, that the three big China carriers (China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom) are all state owned.
- Dual infrastructure: If a legacy wireless carrier deploys Open RAN, existing wireless infrastructure equipment (base stations, small cells, cell tower equipment, backhaul, etc) must remain in place to support its customers. Open RAN gear (with new fronthaul and backhaul) won’t have wide coverage area for many years. Therefore, current customers can’t simply be switched over from legacy wireless infrastructure to Open RAN gear. That means that a separate separate and distinct WIRELESS INFRASTRUCTURE NETWORK must be built and physically installed for Open RAN gear. Yet no one seems to talk or write about that! Why not?
- Open RAN is really only for greenfield carriers with NO EMBEDDED WIRELESS INFRASTRUCTURE. Rakuten and Dish Network are two such carriers ideally suited to Open RAN. That despite a lot of noise from AT&T and Deutsche Telekom about Open RAN trials. All the supporting quotes from legacy carriers are indicative of their interest in open source software AND hardware: to break the stranglehold the huge wireless equipment vendors have on cellular infrastructure and its relatively high costs of their proprietary network equipment and element management systems.
- Open RAN should definitely lower initial deployment costs (CAPEX), but may result in INCREASED maintenance cost (OPEX) due to the difficulty of ensuring multi-vendor interoperability, systems integration and MOST IMPORTANTLY tech support with fault detection and rapid restoration of service.
Considering all of the above, one may conclude that traditional cellular infrastructure, based on vendor specific equipment and proprietary interfaces, will remain in place for many years to come. As a result, Open RAN becomes a decent market for greenfield carriers and a small market (trial or pilot networks) for legacy carriers, which become brownfield carriers after Open RAN is commercially available to provide their cellular services.
Given a smaller than commonly believed market for Open RAN, this author believes the SD-RAN project is a very good idea. That’s because it will make open source software available for Open RAN equipment, something that neither the O-RAN Alliance of TIP Open RAN project are doing. Of course, having more vendors producing Open RAN white boxes and software does add to the systems integration and tech support that only large (tier 1) telcos (like AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, NTT and cloud companies (like Google, Facebook, Microsoft) have the staff to support.
In a follow up phone conversation today, Timon Sloane told me that network operators want a fully functional and powerful RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) to gain visibility and control over their RANs, but that has yet to be realized. To date, such controllers have been proprietary, rather than open source software.
The ONF µONOS-RIC is a key software module to realize that vision, Timon said. It is very much like a (near) real time operating system for an Open RAN. If successful, it will go a long way to promote multi-vendor interoperability for Open RAN deployments. Success and good luck ONF!
Mavenir and Altiostar are among a number of networking software start-ups focusing on delivering Open RAN solutions to wireless network operators . Both companies specialize in cloud telecoms software – so one would expect them to be competing with each other. However, they have decided to collaborate to deliver a wide portfolio of radios based on OpenRAN principles for the US market.
Both companies will be supporting the development of radios through third party OEM’s that will be based on O-RAN open interfaces and will address the frequencies of Tier-1 and Regional/Rural operators in the US.
The two companies will NOT design or build the radios themselves, which is not within the scope of networking software startups. In essence, they will be using O-RAN compliant radios built by (mostly Asian) OEMs/ODMs- many of which are members of the O-RAN Alliance. One has to wonder, however, why such an agreement is necessary? Why aren’t O-RAN compliant interface specifications complete and well enough accepted to ensure multi-vendor interoperability?
The joint press release answers those questions:
“Very few companies are participating in the current (OpenRAN) supply chain and mostly offering proprietary radio solutions lacking open interfaces that are not interoperable with other network elements. In addition, the requirement to procure products from trusted vendors in the US market is also causing operators to reconsider supplier options. OpenRAN radios provide new possibilities for operators to implement a secure, cost effective and best of breed solution as networks move to 5G and beyond.”
Parallel Wireless CEO Steve Papa commented to Light Reading that Open RAN (aka O-RAN) “will only be as good as the radios that are available,” he said. “If Ericsson and Nokia are struggling to be competitive with Huawei’s radios, we should not expect O-RAN to magically solve this problem by using the same semiconductors available to Ericsson and Nokia at present.”
Papa blames a lack of U.S. semiconductor innovation for Huawei’s lead in radios. He has repeatedly urged U.S. authorities to pump an extra $1 billion into radio semiconductor research. He has even suggested using the $1 billion the US recently fined Ericsson for corruption, a remark that is unlikely to win him many friends in Stockholm.
As part of this effort, it is also planned to have these radios available to support the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act that was signed into law on March 12, 2020.
Public Law No: 116-124 (03/12/2020)
Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019
This bill establishes (1) a mechanism to prevent communications equipment or services that pose a national security risk from entering U.S. networks, and (2) a program to remove any such equipment or services currently used in U.S. networks.
Specifically, the bill prohibits the use of certain federal funds to obtain communications equipment or services from a company that poses a national security risk to U.S. communications networks. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) must publish and maintain a list of such equipment or services.
Each communications provider must submit an annual report to the FCC regarding whether it has purchased, rented, leased, or otherwise obtained any prohibited equipment and, if so, provide a detailed justification for such action.
The bill also establishes the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program to supply small communications providers (i.e., providers with 2 million or fewer customers) with funds to offset the cost of removing prohibited equipment or services from their networks and replacing it with more secure communications equipment or services.
In addition, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration must establish a program to share information regarding supply chain security risks with trusted communications providers and suppliers.
For a short video describing O-RAN’s progress, see www.o-ran.org/videos
“Altiostar has been at the forefront of the OpenRAN movement that is now being embraced by mobile operators around the world,” said Ashraf Dahod, CEO of Altiostar Networks. “Our collaboration with Mavenir on OpenRAN radios will ensure operators in the US have a truly open end-to-end infrastructure that will be cost effective and allows them to grow their business.”
“We are collaborating with Altiostar to realize the full promise of OpenRAN. Our Radios will have O-RAN compliant interfaces and will interwork with other vendors’ solutions,” said Pardeep Kohli, President and CEO of Mavenir. “I encourage other companies in the OpenRAN Policy Coalition to open their radios and ensure a broad supply of radios with open interfaces that are interoperable with third party equipment.”
Mavenir and Altiostar have committed to work together to develop a full set of FCC banded radios to be available starting June 2020, with a complete set of radios in the market by Q1 2021. The parties are also committed to making these OpenRAN radios available to be sourced by all OpenRAN vendors and system integrators, widening the OpenRAN supply chain in the US market to meet the frequency band needs of Tier-1 and Regional/Rural operators.
Members of the Open RAN Policy Coalition include Airspan, Altiostar, AT&T, AWS, Cisco, CommScope, Dell, DISH Network, Facebook, Fujitsu, Google, IBM, Intel, Juniper Networks, Mavenir, Microsoft, NEC Corporation, NewEdge Signal Solutions, Nokia, NTT, Oracle, Parallel Wireless, Qualcomm, Rakuten Mobile, Samsung Electronics America, Telefónica, US Cellular, US Ignite, Verizon, VMWare, Vodafone, World Wide Technology, and XCOM-Labs.
Other software start-ups that are pursuing Open RAN include Parallel Wireless, Robin io., WiSig Networks, and several others. This author has talked with principals of Robin.io and WiSig who have been invited to write guest articles about their work for the IEEE Techblog.
Below is the O-RAN reference architecture model:
Mavenir is the industry’s only end-to-end, cloud-native Network Software and Solutions/Systems Integration Provider for 4G and 5G, focused on accelerating software network transformation for Communications Service Providers (CSPs). Mavenir offers a comprehensive end-to-end product portfolio across every layer of the network infrastructure stack. From 5G application/service layers to packet core and RAN, Mavenir leads the way in evolved, cloud-native networking solutions enabling innovative and secure experiences for end users. Leveraging innovations in IMS (VoLTE, VoWiFi, Advanced Messaging (RCS)), Private Networks as well as vEPC, 5G Core and OpenRAN vRAN, Mavenir accelerates network transformation for more than 250+ CSP customers in over 140 countries, which serve over 50% of the world’s subscribers.
Mavenir embraces disruptive, innovative technology architectures and business models that drive service agility, flexibility, and velocity. With solutions that propel NFV evolution to achieve web-scale economics, Mavenir offers solutions to help CSPs with cost reduction, revenue generation, and revenue protection. www.mavenir.com
Altiostar provides a 4G and 5G open virtualized RAN software solution that supports open interfaces and disaggregates the hardware from the software to build a multi-vendor web-scale network. This solution supports indoor and outdoor massive MIMO, as well as macro and small cells, enabling interference management, carrier aggregation and dual connectivity to improve the efficiency of the network. It also enhances the Quality of Experience for the end user, while providing broadband speeds. Operators can add intelligence, quickly adapt the software for different services and automate operations to rapidly scale the network and reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). The Altiostar open vRAN solution has been deployed globally, including the world’s first cloud native-mobile network with Rakuten in Japan. www.altiostar.com
Jet lagged yet energetic and cheerful, Comcast Senior VP of Next Generation Access Networks Elad Nafshi returned from a motor bike trip in the European alps (via a red eye flight from Frankfurt, Germany to SFO) to deliver an important keynote speech at the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) Connect 2019 conference in Santa Clara, CA this Friday. A graduate of Tel Aviv University, Mr. Nafshi has been with Comcast for over 14 years.
Elad announced that Comcast, the leading ISP in the U.S. by subscribers, has deployed the open source ONF Trellis software and reference hardware design “in multiple markets with real customers.” He noted that “This is not a technical trial or PoC. We have not deployed a new appliance. We deployed an entire ecosystem.”
Trellis is an SDN-based, multi-purpose leaf-spine (AKA spine-leaf) switching fabric designed for access-and-edge networks, NFV, and edge cloud applications. It uses the Open Network Operating System (ONOS) open source SDN controller running in an x86 based compute server and the OpenFlow protocol as a “southbound API” (Control plane to/from Data plane) to interface with multiple interconnected white box/bare metal L2/L3 switches. That configuration is shown in the illustration below.
Comcast, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, and Infosys collectively authored a reference design for Trellis in April 2019. Reference designs are “blueprints” developed by ONF’s Operator members (AT&T, China Unicom, Comcast, Deutsche Telekom, Google, NTT Group, and Turk Telekom), to address specific use cases for the emerging edge cloud/broadband and mobile access networks.
“In collaboration with the ONF and a team of supply chain vendors, Comcast is deploying the open source Trellis platform as the networking fabric in our next generation access network,” Nafshi said in a press release. “This has been a multiple year journey from design, to extensive field trials and finally to production rollout, and we’re impressed with the results and the advantages that using open source and Trellis are delivering for us as we upgrade our access network,” he added.
While Elad said that Trellis rollouts are accelerating and may “soon come to an area near you,” he declined to answer questions about the locations, size or scale of Comcast’s Trellis deployments. I talked to Elad after his speech and found him to be very engaging and congenial.
Comcast claims an open source- and a white box-based Ethernet backhaul is integral to its next generation network access strategy. By using Trellis, Nafshi said Comcast improved network scalability as well as space and power facility efficiencies in its cable head-ends.
Trellis plays a key role in Comcast’s next generation Distributed Access Architecture (DAA)  strategy, which uses an Ethernet-based converged interconnect network (CIN). Comcast is using Trellis within this CIN.
Note 1. Distributed Access Architecture (DAA) enables the evolution of cable networks by decentralizing and virtualizing headend and network functions. DAA extends the digital portion of the head-end or hub domain out to the fiber optic node and places the digital to RF interface at the optical-coax boundary in the node. Replacing the analog optics from the head-end converts the fiber link to a digital fiber Ethernet link, increasing the available bandwidth improving fiber efficiencies (wavelengths and distance), and directional alignment with NFV/SDN/FTTx systems of the future.
“This has been a multiple year journey from design, to extensive field trails and finally to production rollout, and we’re impressed with the results and the advantages that using open source and Trellis are delivering for us as we upgrade our access network,” Elad said.
While Comcast’s conventional network currently relies on embedded routing and switching protocols running on individual vendor specific switches, Trellis software runs in a cloud-native SDN fashion on a cluster of standard compute server nodes each of which implements a centralized control plane via the ONOS SDN controller. This new SDN based architecture makes network design, deployment, debug and upgrades much simpler, while minimizing network complexity and cost.
“This is real, true production at scale,” said ONF VP of Marketing Timon Sloane. “The design has been vetted and tested and hardened over multiple years. It’s in multiple markets, with tens of thousands of subscribers.”
“The open source ecosystem created by ONF has collectively established a new ‘Distributed DevOps’ model through the process of trialing, hardening and deploying Trellis with Comcast. This has established a new formula for open source whereby an operator, ONF and a consortium of commercial entities come together to collectively build and stand behind a deployment,” said Saurav Das, Vice President of Engineering for the ONF.
Earlier at this week’s ONF Connect 2019 event, Arthur D. Little, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, and Telefónica released a study that found virtualized, cloud-based architectures can save network operators 40% in capex and 25% in opex.
by Ofer Weill, Director of Product Marketing at DriveNets; edited and augmented by Alan J Weissberger
Networking software startup DriveNets announced in February that it had raised $110 million in first round (Series A) of venture capital funding. With headquarters in Ra’anana, Israel, DriveNets’ cloud-based service, called Network Cloud, simplifies the deployment of new services for carriers at a time when many telcos are facing declining profit margins. Bessemer Venture Partners and Pitango Growth are the lead VC investors in the round, which also includes money from an undisclosed number of private angel investors.
DriveNets was founded in 2015 by telco experts Ido Susan and Hillel Kobrinsky who are committed to creating the best performing CSP Networks and improving its economics. Network Cloud was designed and built for CSPs (Communications Service Providers), addressing their strict resilience, security and QoS requirements, with zero compromise.
“We believe Network Cloud will become the networking model of the future,” said DriveNets co-founder and CEO Ido Susan, in a statement. “We’ve challenged many of the assumptions behind traditional routing infrastructures and created a technology that will allow service providers to address their biggest challenges like the exponential capacity growth, 5G deployments and low-latency AI applications.”’
Network Cloud does not use open-source code. It’s an “unbundled” networking software solution, which runs over a cluster of low-cost white box routers and white box x86 based compute servers. DriveNets has developed its own Network Operating System (NOS) rather than use open source or Cumulus’ NOS as several other open networking software companies have done.
Fully disaggregated, its shared data plane scales-out linearly with capacity demand. A single Network Cloud can encompass up to 7,600 100Gb ports in its largest configuration. Its control plane scales up separately, consolidating any service and routing protocol.
Network Cloud data-plane is created from just two building blocks white boxes – NCP for packet forwarding and NCF for fabric, shrinking operational expenses by reducing the number of hardware devices, software versions and change procedures associated with building and managing the network. The two white-boxes (NCP and NCF) are based on Broadcom’s Jericho2 chipset which has high-speed, high-density port interfaces of 100G and 400G bits/sec. A single virtual chassis for max ports might have this configuration: 30720 x 10G/25G / 7680 x 100G / 1920 x 400G bits/sec.
Last month, DriveNets disaggregated router added 400G-port routing support (via whitebox routers using the aforementioned Broadcom chipset). The latest Network Cloud hardware and software is now being tested and certified by an undisclosed tier-1 Telco customer.
“Just like hyper-scale cloud providers have disaggregated hardware and software for maximum agility, DriveNets is bringing a similar approach to the service provider router market. It is impressive to see it coming to life, taking full advantage of the strength and scale of our Jericho2 device,” said Ram Velaga, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Switch Products Division at Broadcom.
Network Cloud control-plane runs on a separate compute server and is based on containerized microservices that run different routing services for different network functions (Core, Edge, Aggregation, etc.). Where they are co-located, service-chaining allows sharing of the same infrastructure for all router services.
Multi-layer resiliency, with auto failure recovery, is a key feature of Network Cloud. There is inter-router redundancy and geo-redundancy of control to select a new end to end path by routing around points of failure.
Network Cloud’s orchestration capabilities include Zero Touch Provisioning, full life cycle management and automation, as well as superior diagnostics with unmatched transparency. These are illustrated in the figures below:
Image Courtesy of DriveNets
Future New Services:
Network Cloud is a platform for new revenue generation. For example, adding 3rd party services as separate micro-services, such as DDoS Protection, Managed LAN to WAN, Network Analytics, Core network and Edge network.
“Unlike existing offerings, Network Cloud has built a disaggregated router from scratch. We adapted the data-center switching model behind the world’s largest clouds to routing, at a carrier-grade level, to build the world’s largest Service Providers’ networks. We are proud to show how DriveNets can rapidly and reliably deploy technological innovations at that scale,” said Ido Susan CEO and Co-Founder of DriveNets in a press release.
Disappointingly small number of deployments, many open source software and open API organizations (ONF, Linux Foundation, MEF, TM Forum, OCP, etc), pop-up consortiums (Cloud RAN, Open RAN, other disaggregated hardware), defunct standards organizations (e.g. ETSI, ITU-T, IEEE) that only produce functional requirements, reference architectures, and white papers or none of the above. Nothing that can be actually implemented via standardized exposed interfaces or APIs.
Tuesday April 30th and Wednesday May 1st I spent the entire day and early evening at the Layer 1,2,3 Network Transformation Congress which assessed the state of SDN, NFV, Open Source MANO (OSM), Open APIs (TM Forum and MEF), other Open Source management software, and topics related to what network operators have been talking about for at least eight years- computer controlled network automation and orchestration of services (sometimes referred to as service chaining). Contrary to the rah, rah cheerleader talk from a few network operators (especially AT&T), telco deployment of this new age open source software for automation and control of networks has been very slow. NFV actual deployments are minimal (if not zero) and SDN has become a marketing term that can mean any software control of network functions. Every network operator and cloud service provider uses different protocols, many of which they invented (e.g. Google’s routing protocol for DCI) along with a sprinkling of open source code (such as a SDN Controller).
Decades of man years has been invested in network operator proprietary network management software, which is used to provision new services, keep track and maintain existing services, facilitate moves and changes. One speaker said that he’d like to see light touch provisioning rather than zero touch. Another said that they stack the new automation, provisioning and orchestration software on top of their legacy software
For the cloud giants (e.g. Amazon, Google, Tencent, etc), it has been done, but in almost a totally proprietary fashion with almost all the network automation, control and management done using in house generated code. Amazon spoke at the conference and, in response to this author’s question, suggested the different types of network access for AWS. Microsoft spoke, not about Azure but their private enterprise network which doesn’t use any open source code. Moreover, it took two years to get 22 new sites connected via direct internet connections (<600M bit/sec) that would normally be served by copper lines (bonded DSL or short reach fiber).
Selected Quotes from Conference Participants:
Long time colleague Craig Matsumoto (whom I met when he was EE Times, but now at 451 Research) coined a new term during his presentation – “software programmable interconnection” (SPI) for data centers. Craig said: “We talk a lot about telcos. The question is what does network transformation mean for the data center world? What are they doing about it? We came up with this new term, software programmable interconnection (SPI) . It’s basically about the idea that data centers connect with one another with a fabric.” In this author’s opinion the SPI term captures the wide variety of software being used within and between data centers!
“For me covering data centers after covering telcos for so long, they’ve (data center operators) talked to me about using the SDN for pretty much anything that involved automation and the network. Anything that has software is SDN to them. We came up with a different term as a good way to encapsulate that some kind of software is being used that might or might not be SDN,” Matsumoto added.
Tuesday’s keynote speaker and Wednesday moderator Roy Chua, Founder and Principal of AvidThink – a boutique market research firm:
“With regard to the key takeaways, I think you’ve captured them. I was very impressed at the level of candor in the discussions and presentations. I liked the concrete examples and quantification of NFV uptake challenges and the recognition that we need to solve constrained problems than try to boil the ocean. There was definitely good content…..Appreciate all the excellent questions and enjoyed the discussion at lunch. And I am most grateful for your endorsement of the analysis that I do.”
This author recommends only a select few (<5) networking market analysts that do primary market research. Roy is one of those select few!
From Kaustubha Parkhi, Principal Analyst at Insight Research (a well respected Indian market research firm):
“There is no doubt that LSO  is essential. Equally essential is the pruning of its objectives and scope, which becomes a bit overwhelming at times. The objectives, in the present form are so broad-based that they cover everything from billing functions to network equipment deployment.” –>More on LSO in a forthcoming IEEE Techblog article.
Note 2. LSO (Lifecycle Service Orchestration) is the set of MEF-defined specifications enabling standardized service orchestration based on standardized lifecycles of end-to-end connectivity services across one or more network service domains. A key contribution is open APIs – to automate the entire lifecycle for services orchestrated across multiple provider networks and multiple technology domains within a provider network. LSO enables service providers to transition from a silo-structured BSS/OSS approach towards flexible end-to-end orchestration that unleashes the value of SDN and NFV. Standardized LSO APIs are critical for enabling agile, assured, and orchestrated services over automated, virtualized, and interconnected networks worldwide.
Above illustration courtesy of MEF
I was pleasantly surprised by the honesty (if not brutal frankness) of the speakers. What a refreshing change from the never ending hype, exaggeration and lies one hears at most networking conferences – including the IEEE 5G Summits :-((.
With over 20 pages of handwritten notes and so many important things revealed, I am not able to write a detailed conference summary report on this free website. Hence, I solicit readers to email me what they’d like me to cover in future posts, after reading the conference agenda for Tuesday- Day 1 and Wednesday -Day 2.
Please remember that the IEEE Techblog does not accept advertisements so we can tell the real truth. Also we don’t charge for viewing posts or comments (no pay wall). Finally, this author has managed and contributed to this and predecessor website (community.comsoc.org) for over 10 years without any pay.
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