Code, Community and Commitment – the 3 Cs of Open Source

October 06, 2016
By Chris Rice

What really matters in open source are the 3 Cs – code, community, and commitment. It’s not about the size of the company sponsoring the project, the number of subscribers the founding member has, or even which project started first.

Let’s start with code. We’ve had 2 years of production experience with our code for ECOMP, the engine that powers our software-centric network. We are a lot smarter today than we were two years ago, and we are getting smarter every day as we gain more knowledge. We continue to learn about deployment, new use cases and operational issues that positively affect the automaton of our software-centric network. We’ve built expertise while making this transition real, and have expressed that in ECOMP’s 8.5 million lines of code.

It may be obvious, but it is worth stating that we’re not standing still. As we work to ready ECOMP for open source, we continue to improve the code every day, getting more experience with it in production.

Now, let’s discuss community.  Back in March, John Donovan, Chief Strategy Officer and Group President of AT&T Technology and Operations, first introduced ECOMP and our interest in open sourcing the software platform.

After this announcement and our whitepaper release, we received tremendous feedback from developers and others in the industry. Many service and equipment/VNF providers expressed interest and received deeper technical briefings. However, they also wanted us to state publicly we were going to open source ECOMP. So, we did.

That’s why we committed to work with The Linux Foundation to open source ECOMP.

By first quarter of 2017, we hope to launch ECOMP into open source with relevant materials and use cases. So, community members can use and contribute to the evolution of this software platform.

We are also in discussion with a number of service providers to join our ECOMP ecosystem, and Orange is one of them. The global operator is supporting ECOMP through some early testing and trial work.

All of this reiterates our commitment.

We have a strong relationship with and commitment to The Linux Foundation. They understand the value and maturity of the code, what we want to do, the industry value and the benefits of hosting the ECOMP as an open source effort.

As Jim Zemlin, executive director at Linux Foundation said, “ECOMP is disruptive to the industry. It is the most comprehensive and complete architecture for VNF/SDN automation we have seen. And on top of that, there’s already 2 years of production experience, which makes this software platform even more unique. We are committed to host ECOMP as an open source project within the Linux Foundation.”

The Linux Foundation has a history of aligning the open source community. And, we want to be inclusive with ECOMP. They have a unique industry perspective because of its experience hosting other NFV/SDN projects.

Our goal in open sourcing ECOMP is to harmonize the industry, creating a common approach to the entire VNF/SDN lifecycle process within an SDN-based network cloud. We think that open sourcing within the Linux Foundation gives us the best chance to achieve this.

Many successful open source projects start with an initial code base (seed) that forms the first release, like the Linux operating system and the Hadoop analytic platform. Both projects had seed code sufficient to jump-start the ecosystem. This created enough critical mass to attract commitment from others and to build a vibrant community.

Not only is this our plan with ECOMP, but we also hope to have a vibrant, committed community. A community that delivers use cases, documentation and educational materials to successfully launch the platform next year. 

Chris Rice, Senior Vice President – AT&T Labs Domain 2.0 Architecture and Design 

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