At its annual European knees up, the Linux Foundation’s Open Networking Summit set out its stall as to how it will address the needs of next generation connectivity, AI and rapidly advancing edge deployments.
Illustrating the priority of moving to the edge in open source networking thinking, is the announcement at the annual Open Networking Summit (ONS) Europe that the event will be called the Open Networking and Edge Summit from 2020.
At his keynote at this week’s summit in Antwerp, Begium, Arpit Joshipura, general manager for networking at The Linux Foundation, outlined the importance of collaboration across the edge ecosystem as open source network developers scaled up their projects to cover everything from the enterprise to the cloud and the edge, whether that was for 5G, IoT, AI analytics or the evolution of driverless cars.
He even suggested that those traditionally slow moving beasts, the telcos, were starting to catch up with the cloud hyperscalers when it came to extending their coverage in supporting connectivity to the above leading edge applications.
That point may arguably be contentious, considering it is the likes of Microsoft, HPE, Google, VMware, IBM and many other technology leaders that have concretely adopted technologies like containers, Kubernetes and hybrid cloud solutions, to help join up the dots when it comes supporting connected business applications. And in the case of Microsoft and HPE, both companies have announced multi-billion dollar investments in IoT and AI over the last 12 months.
However, the telcos cannot rely on selling cheap SIMs to support IoT to continue making a meaningful buck. If they are to make real hay out of 5G they have to forge meaningful relationships with the type of vendors already mentioned, forming mutually beneficial ecosystems that are open and inclusive.
As Joshipura (pictured) said, it’s now all about “edge, access and cloud native”. He also argues that when it comes to edge it’s about “location, location and location”.
Joshipura says that as telcos modify their base stations to support 5G, they have the opportunity to extend their capabilities to support IoT, AI and driverless cars. As these base stations are largely located at edge points where the consumer and business traffic is generated, the telcos have a potential advantage over the largely more remote data centres operated by the newer players on the block, including the hyperscalers.
But will the telcos move quick enough to extend the applications that can be supported by their base stations, and is it important whether they do or not?
Sergio Gonzalez, lead cloud architect at Microsoft, told Data Economy: “Whether key players like it or not we now all have to sign up to partnerships to make it happen. There may be some doubts around some telcos when it comes to helping to develop the ecosystems that have to happen, but if they don’t take a lead, others will.”
Executives from Orange sat down with Data Economy to outline that French giant’s approach to open source networking and the edge, and to be honest it sounded like a conversation that could have been had ten years ago around the advent of the cloud.
Vincent Danno, Orange director of broadband, IoT and virtualisation, and Eric Debeau, Orange head of network automation, were a solid double act when it came to outlining their company’s commitment to various open source networking projects through the Linux Foundation, and its positive approach to partnerships.
However, it’s fair to say that Orange as a whole, like many telcos, has not been fast out of the starting blocks when it comes to making pronouncements about edge strategy. Although, having said that, Danno was right when he asked: “What exactly is the edge, it’s different things to different people and organisations.”
This was of course the main question the technology industry had to answer when it came to the cloud. If you had a hotmail email address over 20 years ago you were already in the cloud, well before Amazon started making money out of it.
And when it came to an edge definition, Debeau was also correct in saying that it “couldn’t just be defined by networking architects”. Double act partner Danno confirmed that as edge was such a “hot topic” at Orange, “high levels” of the company were now organising Orange to tackle the question, whether that be concerning 5G base stations, multiple corporate locations or hybrid cloud connectivity servives.
We can expect Orange Business Services to get in on the act to support the company’s architects in delivering high value consulting and services around the edge opportunity.
Outside Orange’s efforts, the ONS also heard how “blueprints” were being established to help industry players and customers to adopt edge networking stacks and services. The Akraino project sounds similar to the efforts of the relatively newly established Kinetic Edge Alliance, which got an outing at this year’s Datacloud Global Congress in Monaco.
ONS heard how the Akraino Edge Stack was gaining traction among leader vendors, as it sought to deliver high availability cloud services optimised for edge computing. Like the Kinetic Edge Alliance, Akraino is formulating edge blueprints for industry to use.
At the summit the likes of Ericsson, Nokia, ARM, AT&T and Juniper Networks got together to present Akraino progress, with the aim of showing that sometimes complicated Kubernetes deployments and multiple open source networking technologies can be efficiently navigated to provide easier edge deployments.
And that is something everyone can understand the benefit of.