Exciting news for telecommunication central offices seems like an incompatible phrases. How could anything involving a Telco central office be labeled exciting? I thought the same thing until an article in Network World, Telco central offices could be in for open source makeover, caught my eye. The article describes the convening of the first CORD Summit on July 29, 2016 at Google’s Sunnyvale Tech campus. CORD is an acronym for Central Office Re-architected as a Datacenter.
The CORD Summit was sponsored by the Open Networking Lab and the Linux Foundation. According to the CORD blog, this summit is the first exclusive event to unite business and technical leaders, developers, network administrators, and engineers interested in reinventing the network access for wired and wireless users and devices. CORD partners include service providers AT&T, China Unicom, NTT Communications, SK Telecom, and Verizon . In addition, Ciena, Cisco, Ericsson, Fujitsu, Intel, NEC, Nokia, and system integrators are actively collaborating to accelerate CORD development.
The primary elements of CORD involve network functions virtualization (NFV), software defined networking (SDN), open source cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and commodity hardware.
NFV is way to reduce cost and accelerate service deployment for network operators by decoupling functions like a firewall or encryption from dedicated hardware and moving them to virtual servers.
SDN decouples or disassociates the system that makes decisions about where network traffic is sent (the control plane) from the underlying systems that forward traffic to the selected destination (the data plane).
Cloud IaaS is virtualized physical computing resources normally consisting of random access memory (RAM), block or elastic storage, central processing units (CPU) frequently referred to as CPU core, and network bandwidth. IaaS is incredibly flexible and scalable based upon user requirements.
Commodity hardware refers to non-proprietary server, storage, and switching elements that are built based on standards established through open specifications. The goal is to enable vendors to compete on manufacturing and distribution economies of scale rather than proprietary hardware/software solutions.
Major players meeting to discuss the use of NFV, SDN, and open source cloud in the central office is earth shattering. The telco central office is one of the last bastions of proprietary hardware and software solutions that limit the flexibility and speed of new service development.
Larry Peterson, Chief Architect at the Open Networking Laboratory, states that the goal of CORD is not only to replace today’s purpose-built hardware devices with their more agile software-based counterparts, but also to make the CO an integral part of every telco’s larger cloud strategy and to enable them to support more attractive and meaningful networking services.
AT&T is quickly moving forward with trials of the new CORD based service as reported by Fierce Telecom on August 1, 2016.
CORD elements should enable local access service providers to lower their operating costs while effortlessly expanding the suite of service offerings for their residential and commercial clients. I personally can’t wait for 1Gbps service at my house. Just imagine watching Netflix movies for 48-hours straight or playing Overwatch or League of Legends until my hands began to cramp up. Ah, heaven!
Randall Smith – 1stel Marketing Analyst