The first task of ONF will be to adopt and then lead the ongoing development of the OpenFlow standard.
Six companies that own and
operate some of the largest networks in the world-Deutsche Telekom, Facebook,
Google, Microsoft, Verizon and Yahoo-announced the formation of the Open
Networking Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting a new approach
to networking, called software-defined networking.
Joining these six founding
companies in creating ONF are 17 member companies, including equipment vendors,
networking and virtualization software suppliers and chip technology providers.
The first task of ONF will
be to adopt and then lead the ongoing development of the OpenFlow standard and
encourage its adoption by freely licensing it to all member companies. ONF will
then begin the process of defining global-management interfaces. While networking
technologies have also evolved in this time, the ONF said it believes that more
rapid innovation is needed.
or SDN, fulfills this need by enabling innovation in all kinds of
networks-including in data centers, wide-area telecommunication networks,
wireless networks, and enterprises and homes-through relatively simple software
changes, a statement from the organization explained. "SDN thus gives owners
and operators of networks better control over their networks, allowing them to
optimize network behavior to best serve their and their customers' needs. For
instance, in data centers, SDN can be used to reduce energy use by allowing
some routers to be powered down during off-peak periods," the statement said.
The SDN approach arose out
of a six-year research collaboration between Stanford University and the
University of California at Berkeley. Essential to SDN are two basic
components: a software interface (called OpenFlow) for controlling how packets
are forwarded through network switches, and a set of global-management
interfaces upon which more advanced management tools can be built.
"Industry-wide open application-programming-interface
efforts like ONF are promising for the next generation of network-based
offerings," said Bruno Orth, senior vice president of network strategy and
architecture at Deutsche Telekom. "SDN principles advance Deutsche Telekom's
vision of -connected life and work' and are expected to accelerate innovation
for a seamless customer experience."
The initial members (including
founding companies) of ONF are Broadcom, Brocade, Ciena, Cisco, Citrix, Dell,
Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Facebook, Force10, Google, HP, IBM, Juniper
Networks, Marvell, Microsoft, NEC, Netgear, NTT, Riverbed Technology, Verizon,
VMware and Yahoo. A veteran of the networking industry and networking standards
bodies, Dan Pitt will serve as executive director of the ONF starting April 1,
"With broad industry support
from technology leaders and networking experts, the ONF brings new opportunities
and flexibility to the future of networking," added Jonathan Heiliger, ONF
founding board member and vice president of technical operations at Facebook.
"We're actively encouraging new members to join us in this endeavor."
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.