AUSTIN, Texas -- Big Communications Event -- Open source can help telcos become "nimble," and shed their history of "wait and see," James Feger, CenturyLink VP of network virtualization, said here last week at Light Reading's Big Communications Event (BCE).
"The power of open source is it allows telcos to be more nimble, rather than the wait-and-see attitude we've traditionally been viewed with," CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL)'s Feger said, speaking on a panel about open source in telecom.
Indeed, innovation rather than cost savings are the main reason to adopt open source, noted Csaba Kiss Kallo, head of connectivity, mobility and security portfolio at Vodafone Ireland. "'Free' is not the main reason we go after open source. The reason is agility -- the benefits you get from an ecosystem and development, those thousands of software developers who've put their knowledge together and developed something that can be used by everyone in the community," he said. (See Vodafone Prioritizes Automation as Efficiency Bolsters Margins.)
But for open source to succeed -- and for vendors to succeed providing open source technology -- vendors need to change their business model, away from selling boxes and toward licensing intellectual property, Kallo said.
Jim Fagan, Telstra director for global platforms, defended telco open source as an innovation driver. "It's clearly for the telco domain," he said. "If you look at the evolution of open source over the last 20 years, it's been the driver of a lot of the technologies we've seen today." That includes cloud. Open source is particularly powerful in network abstraction and orchestration, including legacy technology.
"To say that [open source] is not relevant and useful in the telco domain is not true, and anyone who does have that approach will fall behind," he said.
Heather Kirksey, Linux Foundation
VP, community and ecosystem development, networking, said she sees much less doubt that open source is carrier grade. "There were some questions [in the past]," she said.
"Now the question is, if there's a missing feature or missing capability, how do we work with the community to fix it? The power of open source is you aren't banging on a vendor to work a feature into the roadmap; you're working with the community and inspiring the community," she said. And if you have an internal development team, which carriers increasingly do, they can work on adding features internally.
Prayson Pate, ADVA Optical Networking CTO, Ensemble, has seen the shift too. Previously, carrier customers wanted assurances that there was no open source in a product; now it's the opposite -- customers want assurance which open source projects are in a product and which communities the vendor is involved in, Pate said.
— Mitch Wagner Executive Editor, Light Reading
This is an edited version of a story that was originally published on Telco Transformation's sister site, Light Reading. To see the full story, click here.