Adam Hotchkiss

Dec 11, 2018

Meet OpenSync™: A Silicon-to-Service Framework

The connected home is a critical part of ISP service offerings to customers. Connectivity inside the home is equal in importance to the DOCSIS, xDSL or PON pipes it is feeding from, and thus requires a robust and intelligent service delivery framework to provide an extensible solution as technologies evolve. ISPs have invested billions in CAPEX to equip each home with a capable CPE hardware platform as a mechanism to deliver services; however, new competition from web-scale companies such as Google, Amazon and Apple are threatening the connected home services market by way of voice activated speakers, video media players and screen enabled appliances. In order for ISPs to deliver services at scale and with high velocity, these services must be delivered from the cloud in orchestration with a CPE middle layer software framework providing compatibility across numerous hardware CPE platforms. OpenSync™ provides an open source framework to enable ISPs to deploy at the same speed and agility afforded by over-the-top (OTT) web-scale companies.

In order to add value and additional revenue to expanding core broadband offerings, ISPs must move beyond the traditional voice, data and gateway Wi-Fi offerings by layering additional services on top. Key services include whole-home Wi-Fi, parental controls, cyber security, home and perimeter security, easy on-boarding and control of IoT devices, community Wi-Fi, management of co-existing LTE and Wi-Fi connections, a broad range of OTT video bundles, and more. Each of these services requires investment in the infrastructure and backend to deliver and maintain them. A new model is required to accelerate the launch of these services for ISPs.

Building blocks of a Silicon-to-Service framework

A single, unified framework upon which all services operate from provides the benefit of delivering multiple services without the need to build up parallel clouds, databases and provisioning systems. Likewise, management of the development, upgrades and release of services maintained on a single framework promotes faster time to market and scale.

A Silicon-to-Service delivery framework has five main components:

  • OpenSync™, an open sourced gateway, router or device firmware middle layer, providing a flexible control and telemetry interface across major chipset vendors
  • An extensible provisioning and on-boarding control plane to enable and synchronize services across homes in the network
  • A centralized, cloud controlled services operation platform, applying and tracking service deployments and performance optimizations utilizing both real time and predictive methods
  • Visualization of service analytics, performance and connectivity KPIs to validate service performance and customer satisfaction
  • Comprehensive mobile and web applications for end user self-installation, monitoring, troubleshooting and control of the network and associated services

Plume - Platform Blog Post- 10-23-2018_Platform Diagram

Figure 1 - Cognitive Services Delivery Platform

 Building the foundation of a Silicon-to-Service framework with OpenSync™

OpenSync™, an open source software middle layer backed and deployed by multiple major ISPs in North America and Europe including Comcast, Bell Canada and Liberty Global, retail vendors, and chipset manufacturers, provides a silicon, CPE, and cloud-agnostic approach for the curation, delivery and management of emerging residential services. OpenSync™ operates across residential gateways, modems, routers, access points, extenders, set-top-boxes, IoT hubs, smart speakers and other Wi-Fi enabled CPEs to create a common cloud-to-hardware abstraction layer with open interfaces to cloud controllers. An OpenSync™ based framework allows for rapid and scalable delivery, comprehensive back office management, and enhanced support of cloud-based services when coupled to a cloud platform.

Available under a BSD-3 open source license, OpenSync™ is compatible with other open source initiatives and industry alliances including RDK™, OpenWRT™, and prpl™, and its components have been pre-integrated into the reference designs and SDKs of the industry’s leading silicon providers.

OpenSync™ provides an open interface to both cloud and chipset interfaces permitting applications to access both data and management plane control and operate without creating proprietary software to deploy on devices in the network, a usually slow and arduous process. Interfaces to the chipset and data plane are achieved through an open Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL). Data plane manipulation is done using Open Virtual Switch (OVS), a fully programmable switch with Software Defined Networking (SDN) flow control. Statistics collection and provisioning control to the service cloud platform uses MQTT and OVSDB for scalable control and monitoring of complex algorithms and applications.

OpenSync™-diagram (1)Figure 2- OpenSync™ Open Source Platform Building Blocks

OpenSync™ integration with RDK, OpenWRT and Wi-Fi EasyMesh

OpenSync™ complements and integrates with popular Linux based operating systems, which are widely deployed on hardware platforms in the home. RDK and OpenWRT are two such open source device software OS platforms for the connected home operating on tens of millions of CPEs, set top devices and appliances.  

Wi-Fi EasyMesh is a Wi-Fi Alliance standard defining and certifying the messaging between access points within a home to create a mesh network between multiple APs.  EasyMesh does not standardize the algorithms for management of such networks, and does not provide any mechanism for connection to the cloud.  EasyMesh is also missing the necessary hooks and tools to support a number of important services, including cyber security, parental controls, physical security, and touchless device on-boarding among others.  EasyMesh can be used as the underlying messaging and control protocols with which OpenSync™ can form a mesh network on top. Additionally, OpenSync™ adds cloud monitoring and control, as well as the ability to support all the aforementioned services with the flexibility to introduce new services that benefit from learning in the cloud.

OEMs and ODMs can utilize OpenSync™ with OpenWRT or RDK to instantly enable a services delivery cloud to enable applications for the connected home without the burden of proprietary service integration into the chipset firmware.

OpenSync-Plume-Blog-Diagram_Platform Diagram

Figure 3- RDK, OpenWRT and Wi-Fi EasyMesh Interoperability

Accelerated cloud service delivery framework with OpenSync™

The deployment of consistent services across multiple vendor hardware platforms is required for any ISP to scale. Multiple chipset vendors, accompanying drivers and different ODM integrators with their own proprietary implementations leads to inconsistent experiences for end users. Additionally, upgrading and harmonizing the firmware across a nationwide footprint can take many months. OpenSync™ with Software Defined Network (SDN) based configurability using cloud-based controllers allows ISPs to adjust and refine services functionality, algorithms and controls from the cloud without touching the firmware in customer CPEs. The use of an SDN layer is critical for enabling the deployment of new services quickly, such as prioritized QoS service delivery, device access control and device security.  Updates to the cloud can occur every few weeks, and be applied in a uniform method across the network. Furthermore, a cloud-based controller is not limited by compute or storage, and thus can extend to machine learning or AI methods of service enablement to continuously improve end user experience. This level of learning is not possible at the firmware middle layer. 

New service adoption and deployment

The services platform must be extensible to accept numerous applications built on top of OpenSync™ enabled nodes in the network. This is made possible through the implementation of all the aforementioned layers, including an open sourced middle layer on the CPE, a cloud based controller with provisioning and statistics collection and cloud based service refinement algorithms.  Services can originate from any vendor, running resident on the same OpenSync™ framework, creating an app store like distribution framework, taking advantage of an active multi-vendor development community.

How to get started with OpenSync™

Getting started with OpenSync™ is simple.

Read the white paper from Moor Insights & Strategy.

Required documentation for the integration of OpenSync™ is found at:

 https://www.opensync.io/documentation/

OpenSync™ software can be downloaded on GitHub at:

https://github.com/plume-design/opensync

Contact us for support and news at:

https://www.opensync.io/contact/

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