Edgecore advances its white box ambitions, ‘embeds’ engineers in ONF projects

Edgecore Networks, a company that sells white box hardware for optical networks, is stepping up its involvement with the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) to ensure open source software can run on its hardware. Today the ONF announced it has reached an agreement with Edgecore to embed engineers within the ONF lab team.

Taiwan-based Edgecore is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Accton Technology. Historically, Edgecore built boxes that the incumbent telecom vendors, such as Cisco and Ericsson, would buy. These vendors would then re-label the boxes and sell them to their own customers. “With the movement to open source, some of these vendors that used to be in the background are becoming more visible,” said Timon Sloane, VP of marketing with the ONF. 

Edgecore is one of those vendors. More than a year ago, when the ONF announced it was working on building new open source supply chains, Edgecore was one of the original ONF partners.

RELATED: ONF adds new partners, edge and access cloud reference designs to its strategic plan

As for today’s news, the ONF says Edgecore engineers will work with the ONF and its community of developers, especially on its SEBA, Trellis and VOLTHA open source projects.

SEBA — the SDN Enabled Broadband Access Program — is dedicated to virtualizing broadband networks. “Rather than using these big chassis, SEBA virtualizes all of it,” said Sloane. “It works with white box OLTs [optical line terminals]; a one-rack unit takes all the software and runs it in the cloud.” 

Sloane said passive optical networks (PONs) are the first to employ SEBA. But, the ONF expects other types of access networks to eventually use SEBA as well. Those access networks could include DOCSIS and fixed wireless access.

“AT&T has SEBA in field trials and plans to take it to production; the same with Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica and Turk Telecom,” said Sloane.

Trellis is another open source software project of the ONF. Trellis takes a collection of white box switches and turns it into a spine-leaf fabric to support network functions virtualization (NFV). And, VOLTHA is open source software that sits above a white box OLT and makes it look like an OpenFlow switch.

Edgecore customers

Edgecore hasn’t named its service provider customers. But, some quotes in today’s ONF/Edgecore announcement give some clues.

“AT&T is thrilled to see Edgecore Networks making this investment in open systems and open solutions,” said Andre Fuetsch, president of AT&T Labs and chief technology officer. “AT&T is investing significantly in the SEBA and VOLTHA programs, and Edgecore’s commitment of additional engineering talent will help ensure that these platforms are matured and ready for adoption by AT&T and other operators.” 

RELATED: Deutsche Telekom finally reveals details of its fixed network upgrades

Robert Soukup, head of Deutsche Telekom’s Access 4.0 program, said: “Edgecore’s expertise and experience in open networking will further strengthen the community effort to make VOLTHA carrier-grade and ready for production deployment. The announcement comes at a perfect time to support Deutsche Telekom’s ambitious Access 4.0 rollout plans.”