The Open Networking Foundation, which is one of several organizations pushing the adoption of software-defined networking, is making it easier for startups to join.
The standards and technologies group, which has been around since 2011, already boasts a membership of almost 130 companies—including such big and diverse names as Cisco Systems, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Google, Facebook and Oracle. The membership fee is $30,000 a year.
The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is dropping that fee to $1,000 for startups, which will get the same membership privileges as their larger colleagues, according to group officials. Already six companies—Criterion Networks, Corsa Technology, GuardiCore, Konodrac, Tallac Networks and Xinguard—have taken advantage of the new startup program, and more have applied for membership.
ONF officials expect more startups to become members in the next few months. To qualify for startup membership, an organization must be within two years of its incorporation, according to officials.
"ONF's dedication to the promotion and adoption of SDN through open architecture and standards development is one of the many reasons that ONF is embracing startups," ONF Executive Director Dan Pitt said in a statement. "We want to make participation in ONF activities possible for the full range of organizations. Encouraging the innovation that startups bring to the space will further propel the advancement of open SDN and adoption of the OpenFlow standard."
Software-defined networking (SDN) is expected to create more flexible, programmable, automated and cost-effective networks by moving network intelligence from expensive and complex switches and routers and into software-based controllers. The goal is to make networks that can rapidly adapt to changing demands and become as dynamic as the virtual compute and storage areas of the data center.
Every major networking vendor is building out their own SDN portfolios, and even tech companies like VMware and Oracle, which had little presence in networks, are adding SDN capabilities to their larger IT solutions efforts. SDN also has attracted its share of startups looking to gain traction in a market that is expected to grow substantially over the next few years.
Infonetics Research analysts forecast the SDN space reaching $3.1 billion by 2017, while Transparency Market Research sees it hitting $3.52 billion by 2018. There has been a lot of talk around SDN over the past couple of years, but according to a survey by QuinStreet Enterprise—publisher of eWEEK—while interest is high, widespread adoption will be a ways off.
The ONF is one of a number of organizations pushing SDN and its cousin, network-functions virtualization (NFV). Another is the vendor-led OpenDaylight Project, which is working to create a common SDN platform that vendors can build upon and is being run by the Linux Foundation.