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HPE, Intel, Red Hat Team On 5G Open Source Initiative

‘We think this is going to accelerate 5G rollouts,’ says HPE Group Product Manager Roshan Thekkekunnel. ‘Some customers have been holding back on 5G because of uncertainty. This will solve that. This will take us much faster to the 5G world.’

Hewlett Packard, Intel and Red Hat are teaming up in a bid to drive broad industry support for a software-defined open source initiative aimed at reducing the cost of rolling out 5G for telecom providers by as much as 40 percent.

The Open Distributed Infrastructure Management initiative (ODIM) is aimed at bringing together server, storage and networking providers to support an open source software defined abstraction layer that will allow telecom providers to dramatically reduce the cost and complexity of 5G deployments.

HPE anticipates a reduction in operating expense costs for 5G edge-to-cloud deployments from 30 to 40 percent compared with “proprietary” networking solutions, said Roshan Thekkekunnel (pictured above), group product manager for telco for HPE, in an interview with CRN.

What’s more, HPE estimates that the time it takes to deploy a single 5G rack server with compute, storage and networking for a telecom provider will be slashed from one week to just eight hours, said Thekkekunnel.

The open industry standard-based approach is aimed at providing “zero touch” automation to telco providers deploying workloads across any server, storage or networking environment, said Thekkekunnel.

HPE and Intel plan to initiate an open source project for ODIM under the Linux Foundation. HPE said it plans to contribute its infrastructure manageability code to the open source community. “We are trying to get all vendors to adhere to this standard,” said Thekkekunnel.

Among the initiative’s initial partners are solution provider behemoths World Wide Technology (WWT), No. 8 on the CRN SP500, and Tech Mahindra, the $5 billion India-based IT service provider. CRN reached out to WWT and Tech Mahindra but had not heard back at press time.

The open source 5G initiative is a “significant opportunity” for solution providers anxious to dramatically reduce the cost and complexity of 5G rollouts for both telecom providers and enterprise customers, said Thekkekunnel.

Without the HPE open source initiative, systems integrators have been forced to spend countless hours totalling “man months” to integrate products from various server,storage and networking vendors for 5G rollouts, said Thekkekunnel.

“From a Tech Mahindra or WWT perspective this is taking away a lot of complexity they had to deal with,” said Thekkekunnel.”They can now go to customers and start building automation on top of this and provide much faster time to value for customers.”

As part of the open source intiative, HPE is launching an enterprise 5G offering: the HPE Open Distributed Infrastructure Management Resource Aggregator. The Aggregator- which will be available in the second quarter - models infrastructure elements across various sites to simplify 5G deployment across multiple vendors and geographies.

Bob Venero, CEO of Holbrook, N.Y.-based solution provider Future Tech, No. 101 on the CRN 2019 SP500, applauded HPE, Intel and Red Hat for leading the charge on the open industry 5G standard.

“I commend HPE, Intel and Red Hat for getting behind a standard like this,” he said. “We need industry standard solutions in areas like this, but it is going to be an arduous task to get this done.”

Venero said time and time again industry standard consortiums and even vendor partnerships have fallen apart.“Look at VCE – which was VMware, Cisco and what at the time was EMC,” he said. “When you go to the internet and type in it now goes to Dell. It is going to be a very difficult task to get Dell, Cisco and others on board for this intiative.”

Thekkekunnel, for his part, is optimistic about the ability to get the industry behind the ODIM open source intiative. He said both Intel, HPE and even telecom service providers are pushing for more vendor participation.“This is a standard way of talking to any underlying hardware – compute, networking and storage, it makes life simpler for all of us in the ecosystem,” he said.

The intial phase of the 5G ODIM initiative with telecom providers will come in the form of proof of concepts in labs starting in the summer. That will be followed by full production rollouts at the end of this year or early next year, said Thekkekunnel.

“This is the future of 5G physical networks,” said Thekkekunnel. “The feedback we are receiving from customers and partners is that this is the big leap forward for 5G. To really practically deploy 5G you need this kind of automation and software abstraction. We think this is going to accelerate 5G rollouts. Some customers have been holding back on 5G because of uncertainty. This will solve that. This will take us much faster to the 5G world.”

Additional reporting by Gina Narcisi.

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