Open distributed infrastructure management drives telco cloud — Industry Voices: Doyle

Lee Doyle

Deployment of 5G is revealing new operational challenges for communication service provider (CSP) network operators. Especially challenging is the requirement to build and operate extremely high speed wireless networks with ultra-reliability and security.

5G networks will leverage open-source software running on white box hardware – for example, virtualized radio access networks (vRAN).  And CSPs require networks that scale to millions of users and handle diverse workloads and applications that are cost-effective to manage.

CSP's cloud-based resources will be highly distributed across large geographic areas to deliver services at the edge. This means that the operational complexities associated with provisioning and managing distributed clouds (with compute, storage, and Ethernet switching resources) will grow exponentially.  

CSPs require an architecture to efficiently manage distributed physical infrastructure management on a network-wide scale. Critical requirements include:

  • The ability to scale across distributed locations
  • Support for multi-vendor software and hardware
  • Operational simplicity via unified management

The Open Distributed Infrastructure Management (ODIM), a Linux Foundation project, is designed to reduce the complexity that CSPs face in rolling out 5G networks across thousands of sites equipped with IT infrastructure from multiple vendors. It abstracts physical management complexity and simplifies end-to-end automation. ODIM provides operators with an aggregated view of their network resources and enables them to dynamically allocate resources to support changing application needs.

CSPs want the capability to granularly build capacity based on open hardware and software elements. They want the ability to mix and match network elements and network suppliers based on the best available technology. The ability to scale up and scale down resources based on variable network demands is also critical. The leading criteria for their next generation networks should include:

  • Flexibility for rapid innovation
  • Support for OpenStack, VMware and various container workloads
  • Disaggregated hardware and software, multi-vendor, reduced lock-in
  • Ability to deploy, manage and troubleshoot distributed workloads

CSP network infrastructure should support industry standards, connect to legacy systems via standard APIs, support edge and core infrastructure and leverage open source innovation.

The benefits of ODIM 

ODIM is focused on creating new open source building blocks that leverage the DMTF Redfish® standards to enable the consistent management of complex, heterogeneous, multi-vendor infrastructure environments. In coordination with other leading standards bodies and open source communities, the ODIM project is focused on the simplification and interoperability of COTS and OSS infrastructure management solutions.

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ODIM provides a standards-based middleware that discovers and consolidates an integrated view of all distributed physical infrastructure and presents this inventory status model to the network operator’s centralized resource management system, enabling network-wide automation. 

A key feature of ODIM is its industry-standard DMTF Redfish®-based API interface that facilitates interaction between the disparate underlying multivendor compute, storage, and Ethernet switching resources and a single overarching infrastructure management solution. It provides a plug-in layer that provides the ability to build vendor-specific software plug-ins that support hardware-specific protocol mediation with the DMTF Redfish® standards.

ODIM provides the glue between a CSP’s distributed, heterogeneous infrastructure and the management applications used in day-to-day operation. An ecosystem of partners is rapidly expanding ODIM functionality, in the form of monitoring, management and orchestration applications as well as plugins to adapt specific network elements to the framework. The benefits of ODIM include

  • Consistent resource discovery, visibility and control
  • Real time remote health monitoring
  • Ability to map applications to specific resources
  • End to end service management

ODIM is a resource aggregation layer, which abstracts and separates infrastructure and applications. It provides CSPs the ability to integrate multivendor core and edge compute, storage, and Ethernet switching resources within a single open physical infrastructure management framework. The benefits of ODIM include reduced vendor lock-in, network-wide scalability and lower operational complexity. CSPs should consider ODIM as part of their distributed infrastructure architecture as they roll out 5G and edge computing services.

Lee Doyle is Principal Analyst at Doyle Research, providing client focused targeted analysis on the Evolution of Intelligent Networks.  He has over 25 years’ experience analyzing the IT, network, and telecom markets.  Lee has written extensively on such topics as SDN, NFV, enterprise adoption of networking technologies, and IT-Telecom convergence. Before founding Doyle Research, Lee was Group VP for Network, Telecom, and Security research at IDC.  Lee holds a B.A. in Economics from Williams College. He can be reached at [email protected] and follow him @leedoyle_dc

Industry Voices are opinion columns written by outside contributors—often industry experts or analysts—who are invited to the conversation by Fierce staff. They do not represent the opinions of Fierce.