Members of the OpenDaylight Project took a tour through China recently where they learned that in some respects operators in China are ahead of their Western counterparts, according to Lisa Caywood, director of ecosystem development for OpenDaylight.
In the second part of this Telco Transformation Q&A, Caywood spoke about her trip to China, and how open source groups could collaborate with each other. In the first Q&A, Caywood talked about last year's Boron release and OpenDaylight's 2017 roadmap. (See OpenDaylight's Caywood Discusses 2017 Roadmap.)
Telco Transformation: Last year was marked by an influx of new members from China, including China Mobile, Tencent and Baidu. What have you learned from them so far, and why are they so interested in open source?
Lisa Caywood: We did a roadshow tour in China in December and I thought it was mutually eye-opening. China has very actively embraced open source, partially for political reasons because their government doesn't want them to be dependent on foreign technology. They want to develop their own domestic base and open source is a very easy way to do that. All of the major Chinese telcos, as well as the web-scale companies such as Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu, are using OpenDaylight as well as OpenStack and they are looking at OPEN-Orchestrator Project (OPEN-O) and so forth.
But what they are doing with it is far more creative, and in many ways far more advanced, than what we're seeing certainly with the North American carriers. Obviously the government is more involved in all of those industries and they're also in a very much more competitive market. They get a lot of government funding in terms of R&D, but they are less protected from a regulatory standpoint. There is a lot less customer loyalty and less of a captive user base. So that means that they need to be very, very nimble. So they are very aggressive about developing new use cases.
When Tencent presented at the (OpenDaylight) Summit (in September of last year) I think they presented something like one or two projects, but now they are up to 10 or 15 use cases. When we were over there they were talking about two or three more that they were starting to develop.
Basically, every time they come up with a new service that they're going to roll out to their consumers -- and a lot of their action is from the consumer side -- they have to roll it out right away. They can't take months to roll something out because they have a different competitive roadmap. And they're routinely getting a 100 million users in six months with every new service so it has to be stable from the get-go.
They're doing a lot at the edge because of what they need to do from a service delivery and service rollout standpoint. With the government, they're thinking a lot in terms of smart cities, connected vehicles; lots of IoT kinds of applications. The government is focusing very aggressively on those kinds of things in China.
There's a lot of opportunity for Western telcos to really dig in and understand what is happening there because we're seeing the future there. The future is coming a lot more quickly in China than it is here. What's happening in China right now is what's going to be hitting Western telcos in three-to-five years.
TT: We often hear that there are too may open source communities and standards bodies. Do you agree, and will that change this year?
LC: So standards bodies, they're not core to what we do. We absolutely work with them. We inform them of the work the developer teams do and many of them (ODL participants) are active in both open source communities and standards bodies. They take the work that is under development at standards bodies and go off and say "Hey, let's see how this works." So it's a very symbiotic relationship.
In terms of too many open source communities, the Linux Foundation recently hired Arpit Joshipura, as general manager for networking and orchestration. He's looking very aggressively at the question: How do we drive efficiencies across the networking projects within the Linux Foundation?
We're very quickly building basically an open source networking stack. At the very bottom are things like the data plane, Open vSwitch, ECOMP, OPEN-O and things like that.
What does that look like over time? Certainly all of those projects are in slightly different stages of maturity and platform robustness and overall project maturity as well. As the oldest open source networking project, we kind of have a lot of best practices that we can help share across the different groups, infrastructure and things like that. So those are all things that are actively being examined. How do we drive more efficiencies, more integration and collaboration between the projects now that there's a common basis for work and a common framework in terms of that open networking stack? We know where all of these pieces are going to wind up, where they are going into, and that helps bring all of these things together.
TT: There is room for a lot more collaboration, right?
LC: There are lots and lots of moving parts. Everything from tech questions to infrastructure and operations as well as community management and the kinds of things I do. Do we get everyone somehow on a synchronized or staggered release cycle so we can develop integrated test plans? Would that hinder or accelerate progress because if you're the sticking point you hold up everyone else. There are lots of pros and cons to a lot of these conversations. We're in the process of working through those but I think OpenDaylight and OPNFV have been working very closely together and the same thing with OpenStack. I think that can serve as the core and model for how we integrate across the core stack.
— Mike Robuck, Editor, Telco Transformation