Cisco, SK Telecom Join ONOS SDN Effort

ON.Lab is developing the open networking OS to enable carriers and service providers to make the move to SDN.

SDN open operating system

Cisco Systems and SK Telecom are joining the effort kicked off last year by the Open Networking Lab to develop an open operating system for software-defined networks aimed at service providers and carriers for their mission-critical networks.

Cisco, the world's largest networking vendor, and SK Telecom, the largest telecommunications company in South Korea, join the founding members of the ONOS effort, including AT&T, Ciena, Google, Ericsson, Intel and Huawei.

ON.Lab is developing the open-source Network Operating System (ONOS) for software-defined networking (SDN), a carrier grade network OS that is designed to offer high availability, scalability and high performance for service provider networks. The group issued the open-source release of ONOS in December, and since that time, the operating system has been downloaded worldwide more than 1,000 times.

"The successful launch of ONOS marks an important milestone in the ongoing transformation of the network infrastructure with SDN," ON.Lab Executive Director Guru Parulkar said in a statement. "Adding Cisco and SK Telecom as contributing partners significantly strengthens the ONOS community and drives our ongoing mission to bring openness and innovation to the Internet and Cloud for the public good."

The nonprofit ON.Lab, which was created by researchers from Stanford and the University of California Berkeley who helped initially develop SDN technology, announced the ONOS project in November, a month before the operating system become available for download. The ONOS effort, which also includes NTT Communications, Docomo and the National Science Foundation, joins other consortiums—like the OpenDaylight Project and the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), which also are looking to develop open SDN platforms that vendors can leverage.

In interviews in November, ON.Lab officials said that efforts like OpenDaylight—a Linux Foundation project that was launched last year by Cisco Systems, IBM and other tech companies—is that they rely on technologies developed by established vendors that may be looking to protect the businesses they have. ONOS is designed to enable organizations to use the network infrastructures they've already got as they make their way to SDN.

ONOS includes an SDN control plane that comes with northbound and southbound open APIs and a range of management, control and service capabilities. ON.Lab officials said ONOS enables carriers to leverage any hardware—including white-box systems—to develop and deploy services. In addition, the service providers can migrate to SDN at their own pace, Ram Appalaraju, a strategic advisor to ON.Lab, told eWEEK in November.

ONOS will help "connect the legacy hardware [carriers] have … to the white boxes of the future," he said.

ON.Lab officials said that while they are initially focusing on carriers, they expect to expand the reach of ONOS to cloud service providers, enterprises and mainstream businesses. Adding more members will help the group extend grow its customer base, they said.

SDN and network-functions virtualization (NFV) are expected to help organizations create more programmable, agile and affordable networks by removing the control plane and networking tasks like firewalls and load balancing from the underlying hardware and putting them into software, which can run on low-cost commodity systems. Carriers are looking for network virtualization technology to enable them to more quickly spin out services for customers and to open new sources of revenues.