Sprint exec: Chaos in open source indicative of startup culture, and that’s just fine

Mobile operators are embracing open source like never before, and there’s a lot of confusion around the myriad projects and efforts that are underway, but that doesn’t worry Sprint’s vice president of technology Ron Marquardt.

As a rough analogy, he says the normative standards bodies that have been around for a long time are sort of like Fortune 500 companies. They have a purpose, they’re big in scale and scope, and you know very clearly who to go to for mobile standards. It’s not a question of which of many organizations to go to.

Ron Marquardt

In the open source community, “it’s more of a startup nature right now,” he told FierceWirelessTech. “There’s a lot of overlapping open source communities that are developing in parallel and there’s a degree of chaos associated with that, but that’s also where the energy and the creative innovation comes from at this point in time. I wouldn’t want to say we want to collapse that too quickly.”

Sprint recently unveiled C3PO, which stands for Clean CUPS Core for Packet Optimization. (CUPS stands for Control & User Plane Separation.) It was the result of several years of effort it undertook with Intel to create an open source NFV/SDN-based mobile core reference solution.

At the time Sprint started the project, it wanted to find a more efficient solution. In the end, the company identified seven network functions applicable to essentially all user traffic: serving gateway, packet gateway, deep packet inspection, child protection filtering, carrier-grade NAT, static firewall and service function chaining classification (ISC). Instead of connecting these as separate functions, they developed C3PO as a way to collapse the functionality together into one implementation for the network core.  

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Marquardt acknowledges the challenges in today’s open source communities. “It is a challenge and you hear gripes, at times people say it’s too much chaos and open source has caused problems but that’s like saying there’s too many startups,” he said. “Over time, the market will shake that out. It’s an important part of the process.”

There has been a lot of talk in the industry about the need to harmonize various projects, and The Linux Foundation hired Arpit Joshipura last year to help harmonize the open source networking ecosystem, which includes but is not limited to OpenDaylight, OPNFV, FD.io, Open vSwitch, OpenSwitch, IO Visor, ON.Lab, CORD and ONOS.

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“Our ask is harmonize groups,” Srinivasa Kalapala, vice president of global technology and supplier strategy at Verizon, told attendees at the Open Networking Summit in Santa Clara, California, last month. “There are a lot of open source groups doing a lot of different things. I don’t think we’re recommending that there needs…

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