Open Networking Summit: Despite Cloud Native Advancements, Networking Providers Are Years Away from Offering DevOps Technologies

Charlotte Dunlap – Principal Analyst, Application Platforms

Summary Bullets:

• Telco is eight years behind enterprise in DevOps related progress

• Beyond OpenStack, infrastructure providers embrace key DevOps technologies

Last week’s Open Networking Summit in San Jose attracted the largest of telecommunications and networking companies, all reiterating the importance of 5G networks for supporting digital transformations and cloud native implementations. Now companies like Ericsson, AT&T, and Huawei are revealing more on their strategies to include DevOps technologies in 5G telecom networks alongside software defined systems and emerging open source software projects including Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) and others.

But the bridge between networking and DevOps has a long way to go. Or to quote an open source software (OSS) executive I spoke with during the conference, “Telco is eight years behind enterprise in DevOps progress.” That’s not to say they aren’t innovating, it’s just that they’ve got higher priorities involving the roll out of 5G networks and setting up edge computers leveraging OpenStack while defining adequate levels of orchestration and security. Telcos also have different market expectations. While they’re keen to get into new markets, i.e., DevOps-backed technologies, their customers have been slow to adopt.

With that said, as the industry continues to enhance containerization, Kubernetes, and a microservices architecture and tools through CICD methodologies, networking providers will continue to create a modern infrastructure which leverages software (e.g., SDN, NFV) and OSS to better align itself with a DevOps model.

Key telco/networking DevOps projects currently underway include:

• Kata Containers: The OpenStack Foundation-based OSS project helps ensure a secure container infrastructure, important because containers do not have the same levels of security as VMs.

• ONAP: The OSS automated networking standard is a common platform for telecommunications, cable, and cloud operators and solution providers to provide differentiated network services.

• Open Platform for Network Function Virtualization (OPNFV): The Linux Foundation project facilitates the development and evolution of NFV components across various OSS systems.

• Airship: The one-year-old open infrastructure project aims to ease the process of deploying cloud infrastructures, launched by AT&T, SK Telecom, and Intel.

Also, here are some examples of some DevOps-related infrastructure projects that were on display at the conference:

• Ericsson Cloud Container Distribution (CCD): Provides container management and orchestration for Ericsson apps running in a CaaS capacity. It is also a component of Ericsson’s NFVI offering.

• AT&T, considered a major proponent of OSS, is working on technology which supports microservices self-assembly by leveraging what it refers to as intelligent configurations. The microservices are able to detect other services connected to them and when a change occurs, ie an app versioning update, the microservices automatically change.

Infrastructure providers will continue to converge with DevOps technologies. Two recent examples include VMware’s acquisition of Heptio and F5’s acquisition of NGINX (Please see A New Crop of Disruptors Tackles Microservices Network and App Management ).

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