As part of our ongoing ONE Summit Roundup series, we review Nokia’s João António Pereira Rodrigues’ presentation at ONE Summit 2022 in Seattle for context of the ongoing merger between what he calls “digital service providers” and hyperscalers. Look for more ONE Summit Roundup blog posts to come!
‘Convergence’ is not a dirty word
When cloud computing “became a thing”, Telcos with deep CAPEX pockets decided to get in on the Telco and IT cloud environment convergence wave by building their own infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings in the hopes that customer data would stay on their networks and not transit over other networks on its way to and from other cloud-based servcies. This didn’t work as expected: the equipment acquired was often not commercial-off-the-shelf white boxes and the software used to deliver infrastructure-as-a-service to their customers was proprietary and expensive. In contrast, hyperscalers commonly use low-cost commodity equipment and open source software to build and deliver their services to consumers.
What convergence means
Hyperscalers operate highly scalable environments that are low-cost and Telcos embody the knowledge of full network deployment and management. But these two business types are not so different as they rely on the same general expertise to deploy distributed architectures.
Regardless of the outcome of this fusion of technologies, “The complexity of the network will continue to exist.” Even so, Pereira Rodrigues envisions an outcome where the entire service stack is deployed and managed as-a-service. He goes so far as to develop the idea that we can consider the network-as-code which has the advantages of being a network abstraction that offers an end-to-end view of an interoperable and agnostic infrastructure. His presentation includes a demo of how the network-as-code concept is put into action during a live sporting event where the network is sliced to provide bandwidth for edge devices used to deliver rich applications to spectators.
Open source and standards as a way forward
Pereira Rodrigues concludes by discussing how the converging worlds of hyperscale and telecom need to rely on third party organizations to develop a standard framework for developing this integrated delivery model called network-as-code, and to keep the total cost of ownership as low as possible. Open source foundations like the Linux Foundation Networking are well positioned to help develop this framework, to work with existing projects that could support it, and to help vendors and service providers of all types to commercialize it in the near- to mid-term.
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