Officials with Huawei Technologies, which has been building out its network virtualization capabilities over the past few years, are pledging their support to three open source groups in hope of accelerating the adoption of software-defined networking.
The giant Chinese technology vendor late last week said it will work with the Open Networking Operating System (ONOS) Project, Open Networking Foundation (ONF) and Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) to build an open ecosystem around SDN, which with network-functions virtualization (NFV) is promising to dramatically change the way networks are built and operated.
Company officials said Huawei's SDN solutions will support the ONOS platform, and that Huawei, ONOS, ONF and OPNFV will work together to create an open and programmable SDN architecture aimed at network operators and service providers.
An open ecosystem will be a key to driving adoption of SDN, according to Zha Jun, president of Huawei's fixed network product line and a board member with the ONOS.
"SDN openness and innovation will be a huge motivator behind industry development, requiring the joint efforts of numerous stakeholders," he said in a statement. "Huawei will contribute with operator requirements to the ONOS core architecture. We will enrich southbound and northbound interfaces, and actively provide open-source code to support ONOS with adapting to various SDN scenarios and build an open and healthy industry ecosystem."
ONF and ONOS are among a growing number of open ource efforts around SDN. The ONF—which has 146 members (including Huawei) and 32 members in its startup program—is working to promote and adopt open standards for SDN. ONOS, an open SDN operating system, was launched in November 2014 by the Open Networking Lab (ON.Lab), which itself was created by researchers from Stanford and the University of California Berkeley who initially helped develop SDN technology.
The OPNFV launched two months earlier, founded by such vendors as Intel, Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, AT&T and China Mobile to drive the creation of an opensource development platform to accelerate the adoption of NFV. Huawei also is a member of the OPNFV. Earlier this month, Chris Price, open source manager for SDN, cloud and NFV at Ericsson and a member of the OPNFV steering committee, wrote in a post on the group's blog that the OPNFV has defined its first software release, saying that it will be "a time-based release aimed at establishing core project infrastructure, and providing a baseline platform for development and experimentation."
The group will have the "hardware infrastructure up and running shortly to provide a convergence point for the projects and launch the first code release in April," Price wrote.
SDN and NFV offer the promise of more dynamic, agile and programmable networks, to help service providers and enterprises more quickly and easily adapt to rapidly changing user demands at a time of growing mobility, big data, social networks, the Internet of things (IoT) and the cloud. SDN decouples the network control plan from the underlying hardware, making networks much more programmable. NFV removes network tasks—such as load balancing and firewalls—from expensive and proprietary switches and routers and puts them into software that can run on commodity hardware.
An open source foundation is an important part of both SDN and NFV, according to ONF Executive Director Dan Pitt.
"Network operators are rushing to benefit from SDN and are increasingly looking to open source software as an effective vehicle for rapid deployment of key SDN components," Pitt said in a statement.
Huawei has been aggressive in expanding its SDN and NFV capabilities, and has carried out more than 40 joint innovation projects with networks operators around the world, according to officials. Most recently, the company in December announced it is working with Red Hat to leverage the OpenStack cloud orchestration stack to create SDN solutions for communications service providers. The partnership will combine Huawei's expertise with telecommunications companies with Red Hat's open-source and OpenStack capabilities.
A month earlier, Huawei officials said the company is building the NFV Open Lab, a test center aimed at ensuring that network virtualization solutions and carrier-grade infrastructures will be compatible with the open standards being created by the OPNFV.