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Trellis Ecosystem Takes Flight

Sep 26, 2019
Timon Sloane
Timon Sloane About the author

Exciting things happening with Trellis and its commercial ecosystem

In the wake of our big event, #ONFConnect 2019, a lot has been shared about the exciting possibilities and real world deployments that are taking place.  In one highlight, Comcast shared that they are deploying Trellis in production for their new access and edge network.

We’ve also learned a lot about how Operators are managing to deploy open source.

Historically, we have often heard the term ‘one-throat-to-choke’, meaning that operators want a single third-party to take responsibility for their network deployment.  The thinking used to be that this would eliminate finger pointing, minimize the operator’s need for engineering resources, and would result in smooth & reliable deployments.  But what operators have learned is that such a strategy comes with significant drawbacks, and dependence on a single vendor can quickly become a liability.  Operators lose control of their network as they can only deploy equipment and software from this single vendor, they become dependent on the vendor’s product roadmap, they must wait for fixes and features to be delivered at the vendor’s discretion, and they lose all leverage because they have become locked into a single vendor’s offering.

Forward minded operators are addressing these business inequities by taking control of their network, and open source has become a critical tool in such a strategy.  Dispelling a common misperception – it is important to understand that open source does not mean operators need to go it alone.   Open source leverages disagreggation, white box hardware and SDN/NFV/Cloud technologies to build powerful solutions, and vendor partners can help operators as they assemble these components and customize solutions to meet their specific needs.

New classes of vendor are stepping up to work collaboratively with operators to help deploy open source based solutions in ways that benefit all parties involved.  Vendors build new revenue stream by offering integration services, custom software development or supplying hardware components.  Multiple vendors may work collaboratively with the operator in a new style of open ‘distributed DevOps’ where a virtual teams is formed with members from all stakeholders.  And software changes and enhancements are shared in the open with the open source community in order to help build the open source base and also to leverage expertise, enhancements and bug fixes that come from the broader open source community.

In this model, the operator may choose to be effectively their own prime (putting together the solution), or they may contract a prime role to one of the vendors in the distributed team – often a system integrator.  Both models can work, and the beauty is that the operator is in control throughout either way – from defining how they want to do business to prioritizing features, fixes and timelines.  Ultimately, this gives the operator competitive advantage and control over their future.

And this model makes financial sense too.  It has been shown to substantially reduce both capex and opex for operators (some studies have shown 25%-40% savings).  And this creates new profitable revenue streams for vendors – quite possibly at higher margins than they were seeing in the legacy model where multi-layered supply chains relegated many players to component or contract engineering roles.

Trellis Ecosystem

This week, a number of vendors stepped forward to declare that they are ready to help operators who want to explore this model for deploying ethernet-based access, edge or datacenter networks based on the Trellis open source platform.  Each of these vendors has developed experience and/or product offerings that can help ensure successful deployments of Trellis in production.

Example Vendors:

  • Broadcom for networking silicon and associated software drivers 
  • Edgecore Networks for white box leaf and spine switches
  • Infosys as a system integrator

This model establishes a new formula for open source whereby an operator, ONF and a consortium of commercial entities come together to collectively build and stand behind a deployment.  Ecosystem players each provide expertise according to their strengths to help make the deployment successful.  Working this way enables tremendous speed and agility while giving operators the ability to manage their own destiny through open source.

This is an exciting time for the industry.  Open source is not just about technology, but about new ways of doing business.  Collaboration leads to competitive advantage, and ecosystem players that are developing new business models now are poised to benefit as these ways of working become the norm in our industry.

Ecosystem Commentary

“Broadcom is pleased to work in concert with the ONF on Trellis deployments. By supporting OF-DPA software on our DNX and XGS Silicon, we are helping to make Trellis a robust and competitive offering, said Hasan Siraj, senior director, Core Switch Group, Broadcom. “We look forward to continuing our work with the open networking ecosystem and driving tomorrow’s network transformation.”  

“Edgecore Networks is the leader in building and delivering open network platforms.  Our work with Trellis for carrier access-and-edge networking and edge applications furthers our commitment to the space, and with successful production deployments now scaling, it is clear that both the technology and the ecosystem are now ready for building Trellis-based open source networks at scale,” said George Tchaparian, CEO for Edgecore Networks

“Infosys is pleased to have the experience of supporting operators through design, trial and full operations of Trellis-based networks. We are committed to take Trellis into new markets backed by our global footprint and engineering expertise of delivering a hardened and carrier grade software platform. In this rapidly changing world of disaggregated network architecture, we see the support and customization of open source platforms as a high-growth and an important part of our business,” said Nitesh Bansal, SVP and Global Head of Engineering, Infosys.

“The ecosystem has collectively established a new ‘Distributed DevOps’ model through the process of trialing, hardening and deploying Trellis with Comcast.  This has established a new formula for open source whereby an operator, ONF and a consortium of commercial entities come together to collectively build and stand behind a deployment.   Working in this manner has been shown to enable tremendous speed and agility, giving operators significantly more control and the ability to manage their own destiny,”said Saurav Das, VP Engineering, for the ONF.

Timon SloaneVP, Marketing & Ecosystem
Timon Sloane is the vice president of marketing and ecosystem of the Open Networking Foundation (ONF). He leads the organization’s efforts building an open source ecosystem, thus helping to enable broad transformation of the networking industry through the adoption open source business practices.