ONS Keynote Q&A: Ron Haberman, Nokia

Ahead of the much anticipated 2018 Open Networking Summit, we spoke to Ron Haberman, Head of the Emerging Products unit, within the Nokia Software Business Group, about the future of open source networking and for a preview of his keynote panel. To learn more, don’t miss his participation in a keynote panel at ONS on Tuesday, March 27 at 2:10 p.m.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your involvement in the open source community?

Yes, of course. I’ve been in the tech industry for more than 20 years, doing business strategy, product planning, software engineering, network design and more. I led a startup and worked with large corporations. I also had the privilege of graduating from the Stanford Executive program.

Today, I’m Head of the Emerging Products unit, within the Nokia Software Business Group, which incubates early-stage businesses and nurtures them to fully established product units. Emerging Products spans cognitive intelligence, digital operations, digital experience, and digital networks. The unit also includes products such as Security, CloudBand MANO, SON, IoT, and more. We also systematically drive a pipeline of new portfolio ideas and investment bets within our internal incubation program.

At Nokia, we care a great deal about open source and continue to invest in collaborative efforts (past, present and future).  . In fact, open source Contribution & Involvement was the main focus of a keynote speech I gave way back in 2015.

So, it’s no surprise that Emerging Products, and indeed Nokia overall, are substantial consumers and contributors to open source projects relevant to our business.  CloudBand for example, has been incorporating open source projects into its portfolio since day one, and are leading Vitrage – the official OpenStack Root Cause Analysis project. We are also top contributors to other high profile OpenStack projects (such as Mistral) as well as one of the top five contributors to the Linux Foundation’s ONAP project, and are heavily involved in OPNFV.

What is your perspective on the current status of the shift toward open source networking and how it’s impacting – or set to impact – the industry? Your business specifically?

The Nokia Software Business Group is building a stand-alone software business focused on CSPs and on Enterprise customers.  We have to compete head-to-head against long-standing independent software companies.  While the rush to open source conjures up doomsday scenarios for commercial software businesses on the surface, in reality it’s quite the opposite.  Few of our customers have the dedicated developers with the domain expertise that Nokia can claim, and even fewer of our customers really want to be in the software development business. And instead of open source being a threat because it is “free,” it actually represents a high-leverage, high-velocity trove of capabilities that we can tap into, to dramatically speed up product feature development.

Here is one example of how open source is a net positive to our business:  we have a Common Software Foundation (CSF) team that supplies common capabilities to product developers.  A common functions library frees developers to focus on features that benefit our customers’ businesses rather than the software plumbing.  And when that plumbing is developed repeatedly and independently for every product, you are not operating a very lean organization.  The CSF looks first to the open source community for capabilities, and through proven, carrier-grade processes, our CSF industrializes that open source software to benefit our own developers and our customers. Any incremental improvements and fixes to the open source code are contributed upstream back to the community.

Where do you see your role — and that of LFN— in terms of the broader end-to-end open networking stack?  

At the very heart of our value add is our networking expertise.  Very few can match our breadth of knowledge for designing, deploying and operating large and complex network systems, from Optical to Radio, from physical to virtual.

We are bringing all of that networking knowledge to the LFN projects that we participate in. We see LFN as a possibility for us to be active in the projects we find important for our success and the success of the open network ecosystem. The fact that we have these important projects under the same umbrella allows cooperation, exchange of knowledge, and sharing of resources between the projects. This is where we think the strength of LFN is.

What is your involvement or use of LFN projects? What are some of the benefits you/your clients/customers are realizing from deployment?

Nokia has been part of and contributing to OPNFV from the beginning, as one of the founding members.  As active participants and contributors, we are vocal and keen on the having a framework that provides compatibility into the NFV Infrastructure space. We also are one of the first companies to go for an OPNFV verified solution.

We cannot, of course, talk about LFN if we don’t mention ONAP. ONAP was clearly something we wanted to be involved with. Before ONAP we had looked at many open source projects in the automation and management area, but by themselves they did not encompass enough of the overall community. It was clear that ONAP would become a major focal point for the industry in this area, and based on this we opted to become founding members. We have become very active in ONAP and we see our activity only increasing.  Nokia continues to drive ONAP technical directions on topics such as open interfaces between ONAP VF-C and ETSI standards compliant VNFMs, and service modeling.

Can you give us a preview of what you’ll be talking about onstage at ONS 2018? 

Nokia is participating through several speaking slots at this year’s ONS.  I will be participating on a panel discussion on Tuesday with other vendor and CSP leaders to talk about SDN/NFV Deployment Progress – Ecosystem perspective. Nokia’s CloudBand MANO software growth accelerated quite a bit in 2017 with more expected this year, so we are gaining experience with deployments at all layers of the Management and Orchestration model and with solution partners across Nokia and externally.