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it - Information Technology

Methods and Applications of Informatics and Information Technology

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Volume 57, Issue 5


Can open-source projects (re-)shape the SDN/NFV-driven telecommunication market?

Wouter Tavernier / Bram Naudts / Didier Colle / Mario Pickavet / Sofie Verbrugge
Published Online: 2015-10-01 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/itit-2015-0026


Telecom network operators face rapidly changing business needs. Due to their dependence on long product cycles they lack the ability to quickly respond to changing user demands. To spur innovation and stay competitive, network operators are investigating technological solutions with a proven track record in other application domains such as open source software projects. Open source software enables parties to learn, use, or contribute to technology from which they were previously excluded. OSS has reshaped many application areas including the landscape of operating systems and consumer software. The paradigm shift in telecommunication systems towards Software-Defined Networking introduces possibilities to benefit from open source projects. Implementing the control part of networks in software enables speedier adaption and innovation, and less dependencies on legacy protocols or algorithms hard-coded in the control part of network devices. The recently proposed concept of Network Function Virtualization pushes the softwarization of telecommunication functionalities even further down to the data plane. Within the NFV paradigm, functionality which was previously reserved for dedicated hardware implementations can now be implemented in software and deployed on generic Commercial Off-The Shelf (COTS) hardware. This paper provides an overview of existing open source initiatives for SDN/NFV-based network architectures, involving infrastructure to orchestration-related functionality. It situates them in a business process context and identifies the pros and cons for the market in general, as well as for individual actors.

Keywords: Software-Defined Networking; Network Function Virtualization; open-source software

ACM CCS: Networks→Network services→Programmable networks

About the article

Wouter Tavernier

Wouter Tavernier received a M. Sc. in Computer Science in 2002 and a Phd. degree in Computer Science Engineering in 2012, both from Ghent University (Belgium). In addition he received a B. Sc. degree in Philosophy in 2003 from K.U.Leuven (Belgium). After a two-year period as business analyst at Accenture, he joined the Internet-Based Communication Networks and services group of Ghent University in 2006 to research future internet-topics including resiliency of L2 and L3 networks, geometric routing, machine learning for routing, and Software-Defined Networks and Network Function Virtualization. Last years his focus was on the design of algorithms for service orchestration and decomposition in SDN/NFV contexts. Most of this work is performed in the context of European projects such as TIGER, ECODE, SPARC, EULER, UNIFY and SONATA.

Ghent University – iMinds, Department of Information Technology, Gaston Crommenlaan 8/201, B-9050 Gent, Belgium

Bram Naudts

Bram Naudts received an MSc degree in applied economics: business engineering specialized in operations management from Ghent University (Ghent, Belgium) in 2011. He joined the same university in 2011, where he joined the IBCN group of the INTEC department at the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture. His current research focuses on techno-economic evaluation of communication network architectures and services.

Ghent University – iMinds, Department of Information Technology, Gaston Crommenlaan 8/201, B-9050 Gent, Belgium

Didier Colle

Didier Colle is full professor at Ghent University since 2014. He was associated professor since 2011 at the same university and received a PhD degree in 2002 and a M. Sc. degree in electrotechnical engineering in 1997 from the same university. He is group leader in the iMinds Internet Technologies department. He is co-responsible for the research cluster on network modelling, design and evaluation (NetMoDeL) inside the Internet Based Communication Networks and Services (IBCN) research group. This research cluster deals with fixed internet architectures and optical networks, green-ict, design of network algorithms and techno-economic studies. His research is mainly conducted inside international (mainly European), national and bilateral research projects together with the industry. This research has been published in more than 300 international journal and conference articles and has resulted in more than 15 PhD degrees.

Ghent University – iMinds, Department of Information Technology, Gaston Crommenlaan 8/201, B-9050 Gent, Belgium

Mario Pickavet

Mario Pickavet received an M.Sc. and Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering, specialized in telecommunications, from Ghent University in 1996 and 1999, respectively. Since 2000, he is professor at Ghent University where he is teaching courses on discrete mathematics, broadband networks and network modeling. He is leading the research cluster on Network Design, Modeling and Evaluation, together with Prof. Didier Colle. In this context, he is involved in a large number of European and national research projects, as well as in the Technical Programme Committee of a dozen of international conferences. He has published about 100 international journal articles (IEEE JSAC, IEEE Comm. Mag., Journal of Lightwave Technology, Proc. of the IEEE, Photonic Network Communication, ...) and over 300 publications in international conference proceedings. He is co-author of the book `Network Recovery: Protection and Restoration of Optical, SONET-SDH, IP, and MPLS'.

Ghent University – iMinds, Department of Information Technology, Gaston Crommenlaan 8/201, B-9050 Gent, Belgium

Sofie Verbrugge

Sofie Verbrugge received an MSc degree in computer science engineering from Ghent University (Ghent, Belgium) in 2001. She obtained the PhD degree from the same university in 2007 for her thesis entitled “Strategic planning of optical telecommunication networks in a dynamic and uncertain environment”. Since 2008, she has been working as a researcher affiliated to iMinds, a research institute to stimulate ICT innovation in Flanders, where she is a coordinator for the techno-economic research within the Internet Based Communication Networks and Services group (IBCN). Since October 2014 she is appointed as an associate professor in the field of techno-economics at Ghent University. Her main research interests include infrastructure as well as operational cost modeling, telecom service and network deployment planning, advanced evaluation techniques including real options and game theory. She has been involved previously in several European as well as national research projects in these domains, including the COST-action Econ@tel on telecommunication economics. She led the work package on “Business modeling” with the European FP7 project ICT-OASE and is currently working within the FP7 project ICT-Flamingo.

Ghent University – iMinds, Department of Information Technology, Gaston Crommenlaan 8/201, B-9050 Gent, Belgium

Revised: 2015-07-17

Accepted: 2015-07-20

Received: 2015-06-30

Published Online: 2015-10-01

Published in Print: 2015-10-28

Citation Information: it - Information Technology, Volume 57, Issue 5, Pages 267–276, ISSN (Online) 2196-7032, ISSN (Print) 1611-2776, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/itit-2015-0026.

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