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Global telcos sign up to Facebook’s Open Compute Project

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© Open Compute Project

  • New Telco Project group created within OCP
  • AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, EE, SK Telecom, and Verizon all sign up
  • Focus on new data centre technologies for telcos
  • Cloudification of network functions leads to new efficiency requirements in data centres

Facebook has created a new Telco Project within its five-year-old Open Compute Project (OCP) that is focused on data centre technologies for telecoms operators. The open forum is intended to help better communicate telco technical requirements to the OCP community; strengthen the OCP ecosystem to address the deployment and operational needs of telcos; and bring OCP innovations to telco data centre infrastructure for increased cost-savings and agility.

AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, EE, SK Telecom, and Verizon have all announced that they are joining OCP as they seek more innovation, vendor choice, and customisation in their infrastructure designs. In addition, Nokia has announced that it will incorporate OCP designs into its AirFrame Data Centre Portfolio.

“We are optimistic about the potential of open hardware to bring large-scale gains to the telecommunications industry, and that starts with increased participation,” said Jason Taylor, President and Chairman of the OCP Board and VP of Infrastructure at Facebook. “OCP has brought new levels of openness to data centre technology, and momentum is continuing to build around open source contributions for networking, servers, storage, and Open Rack.”

Songs of Praise

The participating telcos were queuing up to sing the praises of OCP.

AT&T had already announced that it intends to virtualise 75 per cent of its network functions by 2020, and to do that, it needs to move to a model of sophisticated software running on commodity hardware.

“We’re becoming a software and networking company,” said Andre Fuetsch, SVP of Architecture and Design at AT&T. “As a result, our central offices are going to look a lot more like data centres as we evolve our networking infrastructure. We look forward to our vendors and other industry players supporting this initiative, as well.”

UK telco EE (soon to be part of BT) says that it is committing resources and expertise to OCP to support the development of new approaches to telecoms technology that can make a difference to the way in which it builds and deploys communications networks in developed markets.

“For the last 18 months we’ve been developing our ambitious plans in this space, working behind the scenes to drive real disruption in the industry, and this is a major part of that disruptive work,” said Mansoor Hanif, Director of Radio Access Networks at EE. “We look forward to the next phase of implementing the new approaches developed within OCP.”

“With the Cloudification of our network functions and the related change in our production models, the Telco industry is going through a massive transformation,” added Bruno Jacobfeuerborn, CTO, Deutsche Telekom. “Efficiency in our data centres becomes critical for success – we fully support the open industry approach within OCP.”

SK Telecom says that there is a pressing need to build an efficient mobile data processing system, given the continuous growth of Internet services used via mobile devices. There’s also the not insignificant of 5G, in which SK Telecom is pushing hard to gain a leadership position. When the day comes when we finally see commercial 5G solutions (from 2020), IT-telco converged infrastructure built on open source hardware and software will likely become a core competency of ICT companies.

“5G, with its diverse use cases, will open up a whole new ecosystem for telecom operators,” said Alex Jinsung Choi, CTO of SK Telecom, adding that his company is “preparing the future by developing a flexible and open infrastructure that can adapt to the ever-changing service requirements. Joining OCP Telco Project is our first step towards it. We hope other operators will also join the effort.”

SK Telecom adds that it will design a system optimised for mobile communications by developing a data centre based on open hardware and software. It also promises to share its progress with other operators.

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