This week Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) announced a set of initiatives aimed at simplifying operator deployments of 5G, including a new platform initiative, enhanced standards and tools, and open source collaboration. I recently spent time with executives from the company’s telecommunications division. I would like to share my insights into what I found to be the most significant portions of the announcements.
What is Open Distributed Infrastructure Management?
HPE aims to simplify the deployment of large scale, highly distributed telecommunications networks through its Open Distributed Infrastructure Management (ODIM) platform. That’s quite a mouthful, but so is the carrier task of rolling out equipment across thousands of site locations. I witnessed this complexity personally when I visited one of Verizon’s network operations centers on the eastern seaboard, and again at a switch location near my hometown of Austin, Texas. I summarized those insights in an article, which you can find here if interested. That said, what I find compelling about ODIM is that it can manage both multi-vendor and multi-generational cellular infrastructure. Most carriers source more than one vendor for capital expense (CapEx) leverage given the multi-billion-dollar investment required in both core and radio access network components. Case in point, Verizon and AT&T have both publicly stated that their respective investments in mobile 5G networks are north of $20B. Besides managing the capital expense requirements, operational complexity is also daunting for operators. ODIM brings harmonization and from my perspective the potential to not only deliver improved agility but also operational expense (OpEx) savings.
Time to go fishing
If you’re not familiar with DMTF Redfish, it’s a standard created by the Distributed Management Task Force that by definition is designed to deliver simple and secure management for converged, hybrid IT and the software defined data center. Founded nearly 30 years ago (a lifetime in the tech industry) HPE, as one of the DMTF founding members, has made significant contributions to the Redfish standard. In this week’s announcement, the company proposed extensions that allow software-defined tools to deliver new levels of automation for managing the configurability and operational aspects of industry standard compute, storage and networking infrastructure. In the telco world, automation is powerful and has the potential to improve quality of service, predictability and reliability. This leads to higher subscriber satisfaction and lower churn .
The HPE ODIM Resource Aggregator is a new management tool aimed at modeling infrastructure elements across multiple sites to help simplify the automation process. Availability is slated for calendar 2Q 2020 along with the necessary components to support multi-vendor environments. The tool also supports recently announced HPE telco core and edge infrastructure blueprints. These take the operator guess-work out of combining 5G and multi-access edge computing (MEC) to unlock transformative use cases and new services.
The power of open source collaboration
ODIM is a partner led effort by HPE and Intel, but also includes a number of ecosystem partners such as Red Hat, Tech Mahindra and IT equipment and services provider World Wide Technology. HPE and Intel plan to launch a project under the Linux Foundation to help further enable the automated management of networks. The open source release of ODIM is also slated for calendar 2Q 2020, and will be available at www.linuxfoundation.org. I’ve spent considerable time with the Linux Foundation and understand the power that open source brings to fostering innovation, accelerating development and harmonizing standards. A good example of this can be seen in the Open Network Automation Project (ONAP). From my perspective, ODIM is well-positioned to add to the open source value chain.
I firmly believe that by leveraging open source, the HPE ODIM platform initiative will deliver significant improvements in operator agility for the deployment of 5G infrastructure. It should also ease the task of ongoing management, unlock new use cases and services and be CapEx and OpEx impactful. I’m also impressed with HPE’s ability to extend its legacy involvement with DMTF Redfish into this new initiative; not only will it benefit other operators, but likely some of its competitors. In my mind, that’s the true measure of an industry leader.