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ONOS M-CORD Project Launch Latest Example of Tech Industry's Embrace of Open Architecture

February 24, 2016

The ONOS Project announced recently that it launched M-CORD, the mobile version of its CORD (Central Office Re-architected as a Datacenter) concept. The new project will take the open architecture benefits of CORD and apply it to mobile environments. The future looks promising for M-CORD as prominent mobile vendors have already expressed interest or support for it.

Proprietary software and hardware are near-profanities in the world of CORD. A typical CORD architecture includes commodity hardware and open source software, open source platforms like ONOS, OpenStack, and virtualized network concepts like SDN and NFV. It also features a leaf-spine architecture that is more scalable than a traditional hierarchical structure.

According to an Open Networking Foundation document, CORD Delivering cost-performance leadership and cloud-style agility to Service Provider networks, CORD provides numerous compelling benefits. The open and generic nature of the hardware and software reduces CAPEX while its service orchestration reduces OPEX. It also results in reduced time-to-market, thanks to the flexibility that its programmable interfaces offer.

This concept has been extended to new CORD variations like E-CORD, a version of CORD designed for enterprise environments and R-CORD, a residential version that AT&T is bullish on.

M-CORD simply takes these same open architecture concepts and applies them to mobile environments. It treats all traffic as data packets and will play a big role in the eventual rollout of 5G networks. Korean operator SK Telecom has taken the lead on advancing M-CORD, hoping to have a 5G prototype operational by the time the Winter Olympics take place in Pyeongchang two years from now. Verizon has taken an interest in M-CORD, seeking to stake its claim to 5G territory in the U.S.

When you look at the advancement of CORD and its variations from afar, it’s hard not to notice an overall trend in technology towards more open systems. Even one of the most notoriously closed source operating systems, Microsoft Windows, is being setup to run within Linux containers.

It makes complete sense, and some would argue is long overdue. In order for network architecture to be scalable to meet the tsunami of demand for mobile data that’s coming soon, it must have an open, flexible architecture that isn’t bogged down by proprietary hardware and software.

Ericsson and Cisco disagree on whether there will be 50 billion or ‘only’ 26 billion connected devices to mobile networks by 2020, but whatever the actual number is, it’s going to be high. These devices, which will eventually include autonomous vehicles, must speak the same language, or we could have a lot of problems, like accidents between cars that ‘misunderstood’ each other.  Technology has become less ‘siloed’ as a growing number of devices interact with each other. This is an environment ripe for the growth of open architecture. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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