SANTA CLARA -- Open Networking Summit – Software-defined networking and open source projects have grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years, but there are still several speed bumps on the road to production deployments, according to the Linux Foundation's Jim Zemlin.
Zemlin, the executive director of the Linux Foundation, outlined several key hurdles that need to be overcome by open source and software-defined networking during his keynote address Monday at the Open Networking Summit 2017. One of those areas included narrowing the focus of open source projects.
"We've got a lot of code out there but it does create a problem," he said. "Lots of code but not a lot of time. There are millions of open source projects out there, right? Not just in networking but every layer of code. Github alone hosts 54 million open source projects. The real question is: which ones really matter?"
The Linux Foundation provides an umbrella for numerous open source projects, but Zemlin said one of the challenges that needed to be overcome in networking was creating sustainable ecosystems. Sustainable ecosystems include a developer community that has a diverse set of stakeholders who can create code that provides value back to the ecosystem.
"That value creation is reinvested back into the project," he said. "The industry and developers create sustainable projects that will endure for a very, very long time."
In addition to creating code that benefits everyone in the ecosystem, Zemlin said the industry needed to harmonize projects across the board.
"That's [harmonization] one of the big themes this week at ONS: How do we harmonize up and down the stack? If we have three or four services, how do we harmonize those?" he asked. Harmonization includes creating a common set of APIs and configurations so that the code works more effectively as a broad solution instead of as an individual piece.
Harmonization also means all of the participants are rowing in the same direction. One recent example of harmonization was combining AT&T's ECOMP orchestration platform with China Mobile-backed OPEN-O to create ONAP (Open Network Automation Platform.) (See Linux Foundation Welds OPEN-O, ECOMP Into ONAP.)
Along the same line of not duplicating efforts, harmonization also needs to take place between software standards development bodies, such as the MEF and IEEE, and open source, Zemlin said. Speaking after Zemlin, Guru Parulkur, one of the founders of the summit and executive director of the Open Networking Foundation, said that software-defined standards were crucial because they bring plug-and-play capabilities, as well as provide interoperability, across all of the different open source building blocks.
Zemlin said the third challenging area for software-defined networking and open source was change management, or cultural transformations. Zemlin said cultural changes were especially crucial in the networking sector as service providers retrain their employees to work with a DevOps, software-defined networking mindset.
The Linux Foundation is also drawing a bead on teaching organizations how to manage open source, both from a technical perspective and "from a legal, business-office perspective," Zemlin said. That process includes pulling open source code in, sharing it and making open source work across the various levels of the stack.
"This is something that we really want to focus on, and it will help us build this great shared technology asset together," Zemlin said.
— Mike Robuck, Editor, Telco Transformation