The MEF LSO Hackathon: Building Community, Swatting Bugs, Writing Code

December 11th, 2015 by · Leave a Comment

This Industry Viewpoint was authored by Alan Zeichick, Principal Analyst, Camden Associates

A Hackathon – like the debut LSO Hackathon held in November 2015 at the MEF’s GEN15 conference – is where magic happens, where theory turns into practice, and the state of the art advances. Dozens of techies sitting in a room, hunched over laptops, scribbling on whiteboards, drinking excessive quantities of coffee and Diet Coke. A hubbub of conversation. Focus. Laughter. A sense of challenge.

GEN15 LSO Hackathon Focus & Participants

More than 50 network and/or software experts joined the first-ever LSO Hackathon, representing a very diverse group of 20 companies. They were asked to focus on two Reference Points of the MEF’s Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) Reference Architecture. As explained by Daniel Bar-Lev, Director of Certification and Strategic Programs at the MEF and one of the architects of the LSO Hackathon series, these included:

  • LSO Adagio, which defines the element management reference point needed to manage network resources, including element view management functions
  • LSO Presto, which defines the network management reference point needed to manage the network infrastructure, including network view management functions

23380540955_d8f38ef968_zHackathon participants and their companies were gathered at GEN15, the second annual global networking conference hosted by the MEF. Held during 16-19 November in Dallas, GEN15 drew close to 1,000 professionals from 255 organizations and 34 countries. While the GEN15 LSO Hackathon was a small part of GEN15, it was an important one due to the technical work accomplished and the networking interaction among participants.

The companies and organizations participating in the LSO Hackathon included AT&T, Amartus, CableLabs, CenturyLink, Ciena, Cisco, ECI, Ericsson, Iometrix, LB Networks, Level 3, MicroSemi, ngines, OpenDaylight, SingTel USA, Tech2000, Telecom Italia, TM Forum, Vencore Labs, and WebNMS.

Benefits & Success Of Inaugural LSO Hackathon

“One of the best things about the GEN15 LSO Hackathon was the way it brought people together from service providers, vendors, and others who are very active in the MEF and the Open Source community, such as from OpenDaylight,” said Charles Eckel, Open Source Developer Evangelist, Cisco DevNet, who helped plan and lead the Hackathon. “We put everyone into one room to have them work together closely and get to know each other on a personal level.”

Another member of the organizing team expanded on that theme, emphasizing that the GEN15 LSO Hackathon was designed to foster collaboration, not competition. “A lot of hackathons are competitive,” said James Kim, Senior Engineer, Network Technologies, at CableLabs. “That was never our plan. Our goal was to do great stuff. Sure, we wrote a lot of software, but even if we hadn’t written a single line of code this would have been successful.”

“We got people together from different companies and different Open Source communities, and in many cases they came together for the first time,” added Eckel. “For example, we asked them to self-organize into teams, and it happened quickly. Nobody was working on their own or only with people from their own company.”

The MEF’s Bar-Lev agreed: “The prizes in the LSO Hackathon series are the expertise gained, the understanding of colleagues’ work, and the pleasure of building something new. The LSO Hackathon series is a collaborative framework that focuses on progressing industry standards by bringing together people from different backgrounds – for example, networking, operations (OSS/BSS), and the Open Source community– and providing a hands-on educational environment to enable industry professionals to understand the work of their peers in different areas of their organization.”

This should be no surprise, as the GEN15 LSO Hackathon followed the same inclusive, platform-building approach to developing the market as the MEF has in bringing competitors and different players of the industry together to collaborate and achieve technological consensus to move the market forward.

Thanks to the GEN15 LSO Hackathon, the MEF has increased market awareness of the LSO Reference Architecture and LSO Reference Points, enabled more contributions to the Open Source community, progressed the work of specific projects within the MEF, and brought professionals from the OSS/BSS parts of the MEF member companies into the active MEF fold.

“The market will be advanced by the work of the LSO Hackathons through the standardization of interfacing and interoperability of different parts of the ecosystem so that the technology suppliers and service providers can concentrate on innovation and creating best of breed solutions rather than reinventing what is already available in proprietary silo solutions,” said Bar-Lev.

CableLabs’ Kim was delighted with the technical work done in the GEN15 LSO Hackathon. “Everyone walked away with a concrete understanding of the LSO APIs and Reference Architecture. We wrote code using the LSO Reference Point API to provision Ethernet Private Line (E-Line) services. Plus, we worked on projects within OpenDaylight, such creating a UNI Manager. One team developed a plugin for an OpenDaylight Controller (ODC) Driver that will consume the APIs from the northbound to provision and required services.”

Kim added that as part of the work, the GEN15 LSO Hackathon team even found a minor bug in a piece of existing OpenDaylight Project code. “We quickly developed fixes, which we will provide to OpenDaylight,” he said.

Plans For LSO Hackathon Series In 2016

Looking forward, more LSO Hackathons are planned for 2016, as Bar-Lev explained: “There is a huge amount of work to do to extend the LSO Hackathon output to cover implementations of MEF standardized product catalogues, ordering, billing, performance reporting, etc. across all the LSO Reference Points. This will accelerate the availability of the components of connectivity service lifecycles in standardized interfaces and processes for the whole industry and advance automation, agility, assurance, and orchestration of Third Network services.”

Next up is the Euro16 LSO Hackathon, 26 – 28 April, co-located with the MEF Quarterly Meeting in Rome. There are at least two other LSO Hackathons planned for 2016, including one in Bangkok collocated with ITU Telecom 2016 and one at the MEF GEN16 conference – dates and location yet to be announced. More information about the LSO Hackathons, including presentations, architectural diagrams and documentation, is available on the MEF Wiki.


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