I had the opportunity this week to address a distinguished group of global leaders from the open source community at the India Digital Open Summit in Mumbai. This event, hosted by Reliance Jio in partnership with the Linux Foundation Networking Projects with support by Cisco Systems, was focused on open source networking technologies and platforms that will disrupt how services will be delivered. With more than 1.1 billion mobile subscribers in India and multiple billions of connected devices emerging, defining the roadmap for how India’s next-generation of digital platforms will be built is key. I thought the event was fantastic – more than 400 senior-level attendees all coming together to have the critical discussions needed to disrupt the industry.
As part of the summit, I was asked to share Radisys’ view on what the future of telecom infrastructure will look like. When I look at these networks, I see three driving forces: unbundled, cloud, and open.
The first driving force is unbundled –the decoupling of hardware and software and of network functions, and the separation of the control plane and user plane. This push for unbundling network functions exists because of the tremendous opportunities it provides. However, it is also rooted in the need to break free from the current telecom equipment manufacturers’ product and service model, and thereby eliminate vendor lock-in.
The second force is the Cloud. The Cloud is well documented in the enterprise space and in managed services, but is relatively new in telecom. The Cloud is not just about the “cloudification” of the network, nor is it just about NFV. It’s about finding ways reduce cost AND improve revenue.
Finally, for the networks of tomorrow to be successful, they must be open. This was the theme throughout the Summit, and there are a number of open source communities working to define open software, open hardware and open interfaces that will be deployed. Radisys is actively engaged in these organizations (ONF, OCP, TIP, X-RAN), contributing open source IP and serving as the systems integrator for ONF and CORD. Multiple operators have already gone on record to state that they must have a certain percent of their overall network open sourced over time.
From vision to commercial reality
So how do these networks of tomorrow become a reality? In order for the industry to succeed, service providers must become more open and move faster. While the technology is ready today, the market is not moving fast enough. We need to overcome the mentality that is hampering the speed of adoption- incumbency of single-vendor solutions, innate processes and job protection.
Another critical piece – how will these networks be built? Once you’ve unbundled the hardware and software and disaggregated network functions, who is going to put all the pieces together? And put them together in a way that’s commercially deployable and that is supportable? In fact, as I talk to service providers around the world, this is the biggest problem statement they have as they move to disruptive technology.
With the advent of open, the business model is changing and multi-vendor interoperability is huge. Service providers must find those systems integrators that can be agnostic to their own technology and integrate the best mix of technologies – from multiple vendors, large and small – to put together the best solution. For example, Radisys, while offering its own open telecom solutions, also delivers to service providers, commercially deployable solutions that include the best technology mix of open and even proprietary components when it makes sense.
It was exciting to see the energy in India for continuous innovation and the development of open platforms. Together, we can fundamentally change the way networks are built, and by embracing open, we can help service providers realize significant ARPU and TCO advantages. The bold service providers that will disrupt- will succeed.
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