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​Telecoms love the OpenStack cloud

OpenStack's biggest fans are working in telecom and moving the cloud from running on the internet to being the internet.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

A recent survey found 85.8 percent of telecoms consider OpenStack to be essential or important to their success. That's not bad for an open-source cloud some people still think isn't ready for primetime.


The telecom industry is moving to OpenStack clouds and taking the internet with it.

Telecoms have turned to OpenStack as their Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) foundation of choice. Numerous telecom providers and enterprise leaders have chosen to implement NFV with OpenStack. These include AT&T, Bloomberg LP, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, NTT Group, SK Telecom, and Verizon.

In NFV, dedicated network appliances -- such as routers, Domain Name Service (DNS) servers, and firewall -- are replaced with virtual appliances running on commercial off-the-shelf servers (COTS). By itself, that doesn't save telecoms much money or time. But, if you run these as virtual machines on a cloud, you optimize the entire network stack. And, not least of all, telecoms save considerable infrastructure and maintenance costs.

Saving money, however, wasn't in the top two reasons why telecoms are adopting OpenStack. No, the real reason, by a large margin, was that OpenStack enabled them to offer new services more quickly. In short, it's the flexibility of the cloud, not the price-savings, that really got their attention.

The companies are also adopting OpenStack for more reasons than making NFV easy to deploy with its Neutron Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) functionality. While 41.3 percent are using it to build Internet of Things (IoT) services, 30.6 percent are investing it for 5G roll outs.

These companies aren't just using OpenStack. They're also developing it: 73.5 percent of respondents are engaged with OpenStack -- primarily by contributing to the software, contributing requirements and use cases, and attending OpenStack Summits and OpenStack Days community events.

"One of the findings of this survey, which is borne out in other open-source research we've conducted recently, is the high degree of awareness of OpenStack among the telecom industry," said Roz Roseboro, senior analyst at Heavy Reading, a telecom research company. "Also impressive is the large number of organizations using or testing NFV solutions on OpenStack; this number has grown considerably in comparison to similar studies we conducted only a year and a half ago. The number of telecoms using or testing Internet of Things solutions on OpenStack is also significant, as IoT is a rising star, and OpenStack is well positioned to be an integral resource in this high-growth arena."

Jonathan Bryce, executive director of the OpenStack Foundation, agreed: "We're seeing incredible progress and rapid adoption of OpenStack by the telecom industry, and in return, the contributions the telecom industry is making to OpenStack have far-reaching value for other businesses with challenging requirements such as high-availability, scaling, fault management, and a diverse footprint of facility sizes and locations."

So, it is that clouds are going from just running over the internet to clouds replacing the internet's very infrastructure.

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