Key Learnings from Comcast’s Use of Open Source Software in the Access Network (2020)

By Louis Donofrio & Qin Zang, Comcast Cable; Vignesh Ramamurthy, Infosys Consulting

This paper will provide insights and lessons-learned from Comcast’s Next Generation Access Network (NGAN) team as we have increasingly deployed open source software (OSS) to virtualize the access network. Using GNU/Linux, Kubernetes, Prometheus, Open Flow and many other open-source software distributions for automation (Ansible), test (Wireshark), troubleshooting (smart mon), and Continuous Integration/Continuous Development (Jenkins, Git), etc., we have achieved some fantastic results. This did not come without a great deal of heavy lifting, new process development, and flexibility. On occasion, it also required re-direction.

By sharing our experience, we hope that other Multiple System Operators (MSOs) will realize the same cost benefits and new feature speed to market we have seen. By providing details on our software selections, others should be able to achieve an even faster pace of innovation as the cable industry moves towards Network Function Virtualization and Software Defined Networking. Key insights we will share include the detailed network visibility gained by using real-time network monitoring tools like Grafana and Kibana, as well as, requirements to use white box switching equipment, commercial off-the-shelf servers and open source operating systems in the network. Last but not least, we will discuss the importance of actively contributing to the open source community while monitoring community developments and building your own internal expertise.

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