A Year Like No Other: Open Source Networking Now Stronger Than Ever

By: Arpit Joshipura, General Manager, Networking, Edge & IOT, Linux Foundation

Download the full report here.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has certainly challenged us all — and throughout all the hardship — I’m extremely proud of the way the LFN community has demonstrated versatility and resilience in the face of adversity. Open source project communities, already primed for remote collaboration, proved even more valuable this year for innovation and advancement across many verticals. For our industry in particular, we’ve seen how vital the networks
and tools that keep us all connected are to our societies and economies. In fact, the Network with new technologies like 5G, Edge, Automation, Cloud Native etc. are an integral part of our daily lives.

In the three years since LF Networking has formed, it’s become quite clear that the only way our networks can continue to meet the needs of our global community is through software-defined networking and a hybrid model for network functions and cloud native applications running increasingly over the edge and private, public, and hybrid clouds. In this time, we’ve also seen tremendous support for open source in network automation, 5G, AI, Edge, and RAN. This is now a global, collaborative effort across telecommunications providers, cloud service providers, their vendors, and system integrators that is further harmonized by implementing standards from ETSI, MEF, 3GPP, TMF, GSMA, O-RAN, and several more SDOs.

Leveraging the power of open source to accelerate software development, while collaborating
and harmonizing with networking standards bodies, releases for telecommunications software platforms are now coming every 6-9 months vs. 3-6 years from just a decade ago. What’s more, this is truly end-user driven innovation; in fact, 4 of the top 10 contributors to the ONAP project are network operators. A vibrant End User Advisory Group (EUAG) in LFN is also actively mapping LFN outputs to industry requirements by developing surveys, exploring various consumption models, writing whitepapers, producing webinars, and more.

In 2020 we made a dedicated effort to quantify the value of LFN open source software and estimate the capital investment required to replicate the LFN software platforms and codebases. Using LFN developer analytics and industry standard estimates for labor costs, we conducted research using the COCOMO methodology that calculated an estimated manual effort of over 700K person- months and an investment north of US $7.3 billion. This substantial savings is better spent by our members on their unique and proprietary products and services development that enhances the bottom line and keeps the telecom ecosystem humming.

We’re pleased to start 2021 with the launch of Anuket, a new LFN project that brings together OPNFV’s proven testing and integration foundation with the considerable progress made under the Cloud iNfrastructure Telco Taskforce (CNTT). Anuket delivers standardized reference infrastructure specifications and conformance frameworks for virtualized and cloud native network functions. For the industry, this means faster, more robust onboarding into production environments that reduces costs and accelerates telecom digital transformation. The Anuket launch event will be on January 27th, 8:00 AM. Learn more and register here

As we wrap up 2020 and take stock of what we’ve learned, here is a glimpse of what I think we’ll see in 2021:

  1. Telecom & Cloud ‘Plumbing’ based on 5G Open Source will drive accelerated investments from top markets (Government, Manufacturing, and Enterprises)
  2. The Last piece of the “open” puzzle will fall in place: Radio Access Network (RAN)
  3. “Remote Work” will continue to be the greatest positive distraction, especially within the open source community
  4. “Futures” (aka bells and whistle features & future-looking capabilities) will give way to “functioning blueprints”
  5. AI/ML technologies become mainstream

Over the next three years, we expect to see 5G, cloud networking, edge, and access networks align using open source solutions and fuel a new wave of innovation, apps, and cost savings. No matter what the future has in store, what’s certain is that the lessons of 2020 have made us a stronger community and better prepared to face the networking challenges of tomorrow.

Download the full report here.