Since 2011, the Open Networking Summit (ONS) has emerged as one of the most important events for the open networking community. This year, the Linux Foundation launched a European ONS event held in Amsterdam, to provide an autumn forum to promote its proliferating portfolio of open source networking projects and related initiatives, while replacing the unsustainable project-specific events (i.e., Open Daylight Summit, OPNFV Summit, FD.io Summit, etc.).
However, the increasingly crowded (and often conflicting) events calendar resulted in significantly fewer attendees. Even so, the LF announced the 2019 ONS Europe event (Sep 23-26, Antwerp)
Among the key themes featured at ONS-Europe:
- Networking Cloud Convergence
- The evolving edge
- Cloud native (and containers)
In the opening keynote session, the Linux Foundation shared plans to forge closer ties between the Linux Foundation Networking portfolio, and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). Several presentations touched upon Cloud Native, Containers, the Kubernetes project, especially in the context of the Edge.
Open networking is rapidly moving up the stack; several speakers addressed network automation, open orchestration (with a great deal of attention devoted to the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) project), and a glimpse of the future with a few talks on networking applications for Machine Learning/AI. SDN took a back seat to NFV at this event, with far fewer presentations on hardware acceleration, SDN Controllers, FD.io, network operating systems, etc. This in spite of the growing footprint for Open Daylight, which is emerging as the open SDN Controller of choice deployed in many operators networks.
On the Edge
Perhaps the most pervasive area addressed was the Edge, with over a dozen sessions with many references throughout the conference. While there was widespread agreement among operators that the edge is in, there is little consensus on the definition and direction. There is a great deal of work to be done, and over 20 industry, standards, and open source groups have emerged in response.
The Edge is being driven by a number of diverse use cases that impose a range of new requirements. Among the high-level use cases addressed include:
- “as a service” offerings
Operators are turning to the edge to enable:
- Improved bandwidth utilization
- Significantly lower latency
- Comply with regional requirements
When compared to centralized Clouds (both public and private), there are a number of challenges associated with Edge deployment and operations:
- Limited resources
- Management complexity
- Security vulnerabilities
- Multi-vendor, Multi-Domain
Operators around the globe are experimenting with Edge reference architectures. platforms, and products, not to mention management schemes. AT&T, Verizon, Vodafone, China Mobile, NTT, among other Tier 0 operators shared their approaches and initial lessons learned.
No doubt the Edge will be at the core of a great deal of activity in the year to come, with even more deployments expected.
Another area that garnered a great deal of attention, and elicited strong reactions was Network Automation. For the Linux Foundation that translates to the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP). Now approaching its third release, ONAP has built an impressive community of many leading operators spanning all geographies.
Among the outcomes from ONS-Europe:
- The ONAP community is continuing to grow with such major operators as DT recently joining
- The ONAP project is the anchor for the Linux Foundation Networking initiative, which is attempting to harmonize open source networking projects at many layers
- The ONAP leadership is in transition, with a new Technical Steering Committee Chair, and the Chair of the Architecture Committee stepping down
- The ONAP architecture discussions continue to address the merger of the ECOMP and OPEN-O approaches, and migration to a Microservices Architecture that many on the project are seeking
- The ONAP project does not appear to be working very closely with the ETSI NFV ISG
- Like other relatively young project, ONAP has a way to go to be production-ready; even strong supporters admit the need for greater stability, security, documentation, and usability
Multiple operators cited their intent to adopt ONAP, including AT&T, Orange, Vodafone, among others, the current state of the code base precludes large scale deployment. In spite of their desire to adopt open source orchestration, it appears that many operators are compelled to consider proprietary alternatives, but are reticent to disclose their plans.
ONS-Europe revealed a glimpse ahead of key technologies on the horizon, including:
- Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
- Blockchain applications for networking
- And of course, 5G (according to some)
Finally, SDOs such as MEF, ETSI, TM Forum had a modest presence; only one talk scheduled on OSM (last session in the entire event).
It will be interesting to see how these challenges are addressed in the months ahead. Next April, the North American event returns to Silicon Valley (where it belongs).