Throughout history, humans have relied on the postal services, telegraph, radio, telephone, and the Internet to keep in touch. All of these represent the foundation of all human communications over physical or logical networks all operating with a set of processes and protocols that are not obvious to the user. This is why nothing works without networks. But open source is now ubiquitous across all industry verticals including communications technologies like the Internet and wireless/mobile. And that’s why we saym “Nothing Works Without Open Networking”.
The network is invisible
If you think about it, the Internet and mobile communications are magic. We tap an icon and place a video phone call; or, we place an order for food; or, we summon a car to pick us up. For most people, that’s exactly what it is: magical. Of course that’s a slight over-simplification because users understand that there is technology involved. I use an app on my smartphone to contact a server, but the network and its protocols are invisible and unknown even though they are a critical component of the global economic value chain.
There is an entire market subsegment focused on networking technologies that includes network operators (telcos, data-centers, cablecos, and others delivering wired and wireless network services), networking equipment vendors and software vendors that are the core developers of networking hardware and software. In addition, there is a large number of service and content providers that provide integration and support services or deliver their products over-the-top by relying on a resilient network infrastructure as part of their business model.
Open source in networking
Synopsys’ “Open Source Security and Risk Analysis 2023” report shows that 96% of codebases scanned contain open source software and that 76% of the code in those codebases is open source software. This underscores the increasing importance of open source software development for networking since ETSI’s white paper on NFV (2012) and AT&T’s “Domain 2.0” white paper (2013) were published.
As projects coalesced around networking, it became apparent that efforts to develop a coordinated approach to open source networking software development. And so, LF Networking was founded in 2018 and quickly became the center of gravity for open source networking. Today, there are 9 projects that are managed under the LF Networking umbrella to which virtually all top tier global and incumbent Telecom service providers contribute and/or use the software in production. There are also a number of vendors that contribute to LF Networking projects and commercialize the code in commercially available solutions. Together, these members and others are committed to open innovation and developing the highest quality code for networking over physical and wireless networks.
What would happen if open source networking went away?
This hypothetical question has many answers, but the one that is most important is the fact that open source is a driver of open innovation and a bellwether for best practices. Industry incumbents look to open source as a guiding light for their own R&D activities which often builds on or around open source software. And, standards would become more subjective which would reduce interoperability between networking products and transparency of the code produced.
LF Networking’s members have contributed over 103 million lines of code since its inception. The collective value created by open source networking software development under LF Networking would require a networking company to invest over $9.8B to replicate the effort required to generate the software produced under LF Networking’s projects. This is why we say, “Nothing Works Without Open Networking”.
About The Linux Foundation Networking
To learn more about open source networking projects, please visit the LF Networking website. Follow us on LinkedIn (LFNetworking LinkedIn and ONE Summit by LFN LinkedIn) and Twitter so you don’t miss out on what’s happening in the world of open source networking.