Why Does Dell EMC Invest in Open Networking?


This week is Open Networking Summit (ONS) 2018, and while Dell EMC has been quite active in launching Open Networking products leading up to this event, including the launch of our Virtual Edge Platform 4600, and emphasizing the broader role that Dell Technologies plays for service providers, I’d like to take a quick moment to reflect on Dell EMC’s investment into the open source ecosystem and our commitment to embracing disaggregation where it makes sense for the industry.

yellow sign with the words com in we're open

What’s been happening in open source and how has Dell EMC been engaged?

The industry continues to see rapid innovation through open source, and a growing set of communities and projects designed to accelerate adoption of open source by producing everything from reference designs to production code releases. In 2018 alone, we have seen announcements for the Linux Networking Fund (LNF), “dNOS” (AT&T’s open, disaggregated network operating system), Akraino (software stack supporting cloud services at the network edge), Stratum (ONF’s open source SDN switching platform). And, it’s only March!

Open Source initiatives have become fora to align with service providers on key industry-wide initiatives, and define solutions through contributions code (i.e., the code is the standard), rather than through standards documents; to demonstrate technology feasibility and readiness; and to create the frameworks which will become the foundation of future networks.

Over the last several years, Dell EMC has continued to lead Open Networking, embracing disaggregation as a means to accelerate solutions across the entire Service Provider network. Dell EMC has invested into and participated in numerous open source projects, including OpenSwitch OPX, Open Networking Foundation (ONF), from Open Compute Project (such as SAI and ONIE), and Open Platform for Network Function Virtualization (OPNFV). Dell EMC has also been a leader in launching new open source projects, including as a founding member of EdgeX Foundry. We have also seen success by helping customers operationalize Open Networking in production deployments, such as the mission-critical V2V/V2X Verizon Connect Container Cloud Platform (VCCP), which leverages Dell EMC’s Open Source NOS based on Open Switch – OS10.

Why does Dell EMC invest in open source?

By investing into open source projects. Dell EMC is able to better evaluate the future of the dis-aggregated software stacks, and determine how to best innovate at the infrastructure layer in support of simplified on-boarding, integration, and management, enhanced performance, and scaled operationalization. For Dell EMC, our contribution and participation to open source initiatives are important in providing maximum choice to Service Providers looking to realize the power of the network, from edge to core to cloud, and to accelerate software-defined and virtualized networks. In fact, I wouldn’t even limit this statement to Service Providers – many of our largest enterprise organizations are also embracing Open Networking at a pace equivalent to, or faster than, our Service Providers.

As the myriad of open source communities continues to grow increasingly complex, Dell EMC will continue to monitor the changing landscape and re-evaluate our role in leading Open Networking, and continue to deliver solutions that minimize technology and investment risk. On the positive side, these open source projects are all focused on modern software architectures, embracing agile development and modularization, allowing best of breed technologies from multiple projects to be integrated to create even better networking stacks.

What’s next for Dell EMC?

For 2018, as part of our commitment to continue to invest into open source initiatives to gain increased visibility into how our infrastructure is affected by the growing desire to separate infrastructure from software and software control plane from software forwarding plane, Dell EMC will strategically prioritize three core organizations related to open source networking:

  • The OpenSwitch (OPX) Network Operating System
  • Open Networking Foundation, to increase our visibility and participation in projects such as Central Office Re-Architected as a Data Center (CORD), Open Network Operating System (ONOS), P4 and Stratum
  • Linux Networking Fund (LNF), to provide increased exposure and Dell EMC thought leadership to projects such as Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP), OPNFV

We look forward to continuing to engage with the industry, work with our service provider customers as partners, innovating together towards new architectures/technologies, and contributing to the evolution of network through these organizations.

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