In lots of networking and telecom software companies you can find many great networking and telecom software that has been in production for 5 to 10 years. Normally this software is sold on top of an appliance that gets bought from another company or another department. The bad thing about this is that each software takes up a at least one unit in a data centre rack and when the box vendor declares end of life, the software vendor needs to phone its customers and bring the unhappy news.
Telecom operators have told the market that they want to see NFV. The market had interpreted NFV in two ways. Either we take a costly operating system like Windriver, we put a costly VMWare hypervisor on top, a costly RedHat and then we put our legacy networking software. The word costly is repeated many times on purpose. The visionaries have interpreted NFV as networking logic running on OpenStack. The visionaries are right that this is the way to go. However today’s product managers can’t take a magic wand and convert a legacy solution written to run on a box into a scale out cloud enabled solution. Data plane virtualization is still a skill that is more of an art than a science.
What if there would be a cheap (Snappy Ubuntu Core is open source), innovative alternative that will give your legacy networking stack another three to five years of life. Just enough for your R&D to master the art of data plane virtualization and get a next-generation product on the market. However the same solution will also give network board manufacturers a chance to make money on the software that runs on top of their silicon and as such they would be crazy to declare end of life on a box that makes the cashier ring every month. Finally if your company is lucky and your legacy solution runs on Ubuntu then you will get bare metal performance with NFV flexibility.
So how does this magic work. Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, released Snappy Ubuntu Core which is the smallest Ubuntu ever. It incorporates innovations from the Ubuntu Phone that allow software to be packaged like a mobile app, called Snappy App or Snap, and sold through a Snap Store. This Snap can either contain third-party executables directly or boot a KVM in which a third-party solution can be booted. Executables give your bare-metal speed, especially if network acceleration cards are present. KVM gives legacy solution an extended life and makes it run a lot faster than running Windriver+VMWare+RedHat. Both Snaps and KVMs can be assigned to one or multiple ports and technically network chaining solutions are possible.
So if you are responsible for a legacy networking or telecom software product, if you are a vendor of networking acceleration boards [although chances are high somebody in your organisation is already working with us] , or if you are a customer that still does not belief the slideware on data plane on OpenStack but needs to put multiple networking functions into one unit, then you should contact Canonical now because our open source solutions can solve your problems. If you don’t have this problem but do know somebody that does, why don’t you forward this blog post. If anything they might pay your drink next time you meet…