AT&T says it plans to open source the Disaggregated Network Operating System, or dNOS project, to offer the industry an open, flexible alternative to traditional integrated networking equipment. Hosted by the Linux Foundation, the dNOS project will deliver a software framework to progress white box adoption and use in a service provider's infrastructure. Software developers, cloud providers, network operators, hardware makers, and networking application developers will have the ability to develop new white box infrastructure to affordably meet customer's changing demands,says AT&T.
In the past, Network Operating System creation has been challenging because ofcomplex, considerable hardware and software requirements. According to AT&T, hardware can only be as effective as the software that runs on it. A flexible, open operating system is necessary for taking advantage of white box routers, switches, and other open platforms.
AT&T maintains that white box hardware is a crucial network component, and that deployment remains an ongoing discussion. According to AT&T, the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) is positioned to be widely accepted as the SDN and NFV industry platform worldwide, with members representing nearly 60% of mobile subscribers globally.
In February of 2017, the Linux Foundation announced the merger of open source ECOMP and Open Orchestrator Project (OPEN-O) to create the ONAP platform project, attempting to combine the work of the two groups (see "Open Source ECOMP, OPEN-O merge to form ONAP Project"). The ONAP platform has since become the open network operating system for the network cloud.
AT&T says the dNOS project has similar potential to be the open operating system for white box, supporting existing network protocols. The dNOS project will also provide expansion capabilities for new tool support, including the open source programming language P4, AT&T asserts. Resources from AT&T Labs and AT&T Vyatta will be significant project contributors.
"Our goal with open sourcing the dNOS project is to create a community around an open framework to software-enable industry-standard white box hardware designs, such as those contributed to the Open Compute Project," said John Medamana, AT&T vice president of Packet Optical Network. "We're excited to work with the Linux Foundation to bring this concept to reality. We invite others to join us to build the community and support this effort."
The dNOS project will promote an ecosystem of application and hardware options from multiple vendors, enabling each separate device in the network to have its own operating system. AT&T plans for code and collateral transition to begin in the near future. The company also intends to detail the dNOS project in March at the Linux Foundation's upcoming Open Networking Summit (ONS).
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