Open source software altering telecom operator, vendor space

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The increased focus and adoption of open source software is bolstering telecom operator plans, forcing vendors to rethink strategy

SANTA CLARA, California – Open source software continues to gain support from the telecom community as operator and vendors move forward with deployment plans using network functions virtualization and software-defined networking technologies.

Speaking during a keynote panel at the recent Open Networking Summit event in Santa Clara, California, Chris Rice, VP for advanced technologies, platforms and architecture at AT&T Labs, said the open source community was maturing enough to make it possible for the telecom giant to rely more on such platforms in support of its significant push into software control of its network.

Rice explained the carrier had about 100 developers working in the OpenDaylight area, sponsored academic research and was working internally on its network cloud and automation platform. Rice also touted the carrier’s recently launched enhanced control, orchestration, management and policy project, which was at 8 million lines of code and growing.

“This allows for network functions at scale in a vendor neutral way,” Rice surmised when speaking about the use of open source.

Michael Bushong, VP of product management for Brocade’s Software Networking Business, said from a vendor perspective the move towards open source was “a big change,” and that instead of focusing on making “your stuff sticky, it’s now how to make yourself easy to replace.”

“That’s a tough business model to sell to executives,” Bushong explained. “But, that’s where we are going and it requires a new way to look at the business. It disrupts incumbency and forces us to compete on a best of breed, which is good for competition.”

Gene Reznik, group technology officer at Accenture’s Communications, Media and Technology division, said software was a way for telecom operators to further differentiate their services from both their traditional competitors and over-the-top players. In addition, Reznik built on Bushong’s comments in noting the economics of software are very different when compared with hardware, made even more so when dealing with open source software.

Focusing in on workforce challenges, Jim Zemlin, executive director at the Linux Foundation, said the move towards open source software is forcing the industry to re-examine its employment needs. Zemlin explained companies can use open source software to “leverage” their employment needs in a “people game,” adding developers matter in the process.

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Dan Meyer

Editor-in-Chief, Telecom Software, Policy, Wireless Carriers
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Dan Meyer started at RCR Wireless News in 1999 covering wireless carriers and wireless technologies. As editor-in-chief, Dan oversees editorial direction, reports on news from the wireless industry, including telecom software, policy and wireless carriers, and provides opinion stories on topics of concern to the market such as his popular Friday column “Worst of the Week.”