CORD, the open source project reshaping Central Offices into data centers, is expecting 2018 to be a big year for deployment, given the current edge computing drive and its own progress in creating a simpler unified platform.
In fact, there should be more exciting news in the next month or two, says Timon Sloane, vice president of standards and membership at the Open Networking Foundation , the community supporting the Central Office Re-architected as a Data Center project. He says in an interview that he expects CORD to emerge as a de facto standard for edge computing by telecom operators, a market he estimates to be a $300 billion opportunity.
It's an idea endorsed by Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Roz Roseboro. (See No More Navel-Gazing: CORD Speeds Automation.)
"I think their chances of doing so are good," Roseboro says. "My most recent research shows strong support for CORD. Its mission to simplify the access network and adopt more flexible, cloud architectures is resonating. That they had involvement from the CSP community from the get-go is enormously beneficial."
Some of the optimism for 2018 is based on the way CORD ended 2017: It announced a new simplified and consolidated platform, CORD 4.1, that combined once-separate residential, mobile and enterprise versions into a single version that Sloane describes as "much more easily consumed."
"Before this release, with the different branches of CORD, some were easier to consume that others," Sloane says. "This was designed to bring it all together. And to chart the course forward for how all services will be supported on one edge cloud. You don't need separate clouds for different services."
CORD 4.1 combines a network functions virtualization infrastructure with the services component -- initially an inventory of 25 virtual network functions -- plus orchestration to turn services up and down. In addition, he says, it includes enhancements to the continuous integration/continuous development aspects for ongoing DevOps support, to allow incremental changes with the ability to either rollback or rollout further as needed.
ONF's seven original operator partners -- AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), China Unicom Ltd. (NYSE: CHU), Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), NTT Communications Corp. (NYSE: NTT); Türk Telekomunikasyon A.S. , and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) -- are still part of this journey, which now includes the ONOS controller developed by ON.Lab, which merged into ONF. The CORD community now includes more than 60 companies engaged in its effort to disaggregate at the edge and deploy white boxes in place of specialized hardware, with most functions moving into software.
In the past, deployments of CORD were specific to the type of service -- residential, enterprise or mobile -- and Sloane admits that while the residential CORD was relatively straightforward, deploying Mobile CORD required specific expertise from the ONF. "It was not click and go," he says.
That changes with CORD 4.1, as all three versions are merged and operators can select which "personality" they want on a click and go basis. With the next software update, due out this spring, "we expect to not just select a single personality but be able to run different subscribers simultaneously," he adds. That includes running a whole series of services for those subscribers.
The new unified CORD is being built as "a simplified, easy-to-consume whole," Sloane says, but it is also consumable in modules, recognizing that every operator and many vendors as well have their own legacy environments into which edge computing will be deployed. Among those options is choice of hardware platform -- X.86 servers are an option, but so are switch fabrics.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading