The Open Networking Foundation in January, in an effort to encourage more small companies and startups to join the software-defined networking consortium, dropped its membership fee and created a new category for these businesses.
According to the group, the move worked. In the past five months, 24 startups have joined the ONF, which is one of several organizations trying to fuel the adoption of software-defined networking (SDN). ONF Executive Director Dan Pitt noted in a post on the group's blog that Silicon Valley is a "startup hub," and that the consortium needs contributions "from the wide spectrum of SDN organizations" to accelerate the deployment of SDN.
"We recognize and support the value that these companies bring to their respective industries," Pitt wrote, explaining the decision to create a special category for startups. "But we also know that there are challenges associated with being a startup, and the cost of joining ONF may have previously been outside the scope of some startups' budgets."
The startup category is aimed at companies that are within two years of their incorporation. The membership fee for the category is $1,000 a year for the first two years; for regular members, the annual fee is $30,000.
The two dozen startups make up almost a fifth of ONF's total membership—which includes such top-tier vendors as Cisco Systems, Dell, Google, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and VMware—and come from a range of countries, including Canada, Australia, China and Korea.
"SDN and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) are the most significant changes in telecom technology that we have seen in the 21st century so far," Frank Ruhl, director of new member Blue Ocean Networks, said in a statement. "ONF and the vision of its Board of Directors can be credited as the catalysts for these seismic shifts. For a startup company, this is an immense opportunity to be a part of."
"ONF participation provides a great platform and collaboration opportunity to engage and contribute with the larger open SDN ecosystem worldwide," Srinivas Vegesna, CEO of Criterion Networks India Pvt., said in a statement. "This is especially more meaningful if you are not an established player or located in the Silicon Valley."
The ONF is one of a number of organizations pushing SDN and NFV. Among the others is the OpenDaylight Project, which is under the auspices of the Linux Foundation and is working to create a common SDN platform that vendors can build upon.