The New Research and Development (R&D) Model - Open Source Projects

8 Sep 2016

I have written in the past how the International Multimedia Telecommunication Consortium (IMTC) has generated some great use case specifications on Real-Time Media and Software Defined Networking (RTM SDN) and how the Open Network Foundation (ONF) has realized these use cases with a new open source project for RTM SDN called Project Atrium Enterprise. However, what most don't realize is how open source has changed the world in how we do Research and Development (R&D) as an industry.

I for one, having been in a closed source world for many years, didn't realize how innovation is being incubated in a totally different model than the past. I always thought open source projects were what developers did in their spare time and that features were just punted over the wall with no rhyme or reason. Now, I knew that open source Linux was widely used as the operating system of choice for embedded systems; however, what I didn't understand is how open source projects really worked and how they have been funded.

Many companies, especially service providers and vendors, have syndicated their R&D efforts to solve a common goal in which they pay large amounts of money to fund open source projects by hiring full time developers and product managers. In fact, the networking industry over the next decade will completely retool itself to Software Defined Networks (SDN), Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) technologies, and open source is paving the way.

As the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of MEF, I get the privilege to work with some the best and greatest open source projects happening on this planet. What is occurring in the industry is mind blowing as software will move to abstract almost everything into a set of open APIs. Ask any service provider worldwide and very few are investing in monolithic, closed source systems anymore. Learning from the over-the-top (OTT) cloud providers, many service providers are moving into disaggregation and abstraction to create cloud-based, open fabrics that has massive scale and performance using a single service cloud platform all being coordinated using an E2E orchestration system called Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO).

The new R&D model is simple: use open source for 80% of the functionality needed for a product or service and then add 20% secret sauce that differentiate it from the other competitors. This new model allows for rapid innovation in which teams of full time open source developers provide the base platform augmented with company-hired developers to mature the product or service into production-ready systems. I took the liberty to list some of the open source projects below targeting just cloud-based infrastructure technologies. As you can see I ran out of room, so my apologies in advance to any open source projects I failed to mention.

Open Source Projects


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