ONF Creates Development Community Around SDN

The consortium is looking to boost the development of open software in hopes of driving the commercial adoption of SDN.


The Open Networking Foundation, one of several industry consortiums looking to drive commercial adoption of software-defined networking through open-source efforts, is creating a development community around the effort as well as a code repository.

The organization announced the creation of Open Source SDN and its Website Feb. 18, with officials saying the move was made to fuel the commercialization of open-source software as a way of furthering its own work around software-defined networking.

"We see open source software as a key route to developing de facto standards and fostering multi-vendor interoperability, both of which are top priorities for ONF," Dan Pitt, executive director of the Open Networking Foundation, said in a statement. "Our work in open source software development will continue to be complementary to both our own specifications work and the open source work done by other organizations and we look forward to continued collaboration."

Along with the new Website and development community, the ONF also created the Software Leadership Council (SLC) to oversee the governance of the new group. Included on the council are representatives from such industry vendors as Cisco Systems, Big Switch Networks and VMware, as well as the ONF. Stuart Bailey, founder and CTO of Infoblox, will chair the group.

In a blog post that appeared on both the ONF and Open Source SDN sites, Bailey said the ONF, which was created in 2011 by the likes of Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Deutsche Telecom, was past due in launching a community of developers that will create open-source software solutions for organizations leveraging SDN and build upon the protocols—such as OpenFlow—that the ONF has already built. He said the new Website will help fuel collaboration, bring projects together and enable members to track the development of projects.

Bailey also put the onus on software developers, encouraging them to get involved and push the SDN movement forward.

"It's about time that we start putting the 'S' into SDN," he wrote. "It's about time for our SDN movement to evolve to the next level, to start cashing in on the promise of SDN. We have made progress, but SDN is still too challenging for mainstream network operators who don't have 20 hours a week to make things work. We need integrated solutions, stacks of software that can be downloaded and deployed, and helpful Open Source SDN community gurus to help folks out (think 'SDN Stack Overflow'). We need to get serious, make time, get engaged, get moving, spread the word, and make a difference."

Businesses and service providers are looking for ways to make their networks more agile, programmable, scalable and affordable, and are looking to SDN and network-functions virtualization (NFV) to make this happen. SDN and NFV call for the network control plane and networking tasks to be removed from expensive and complex networking gear and put into software that runs on top of commodity hardware.

Established networking vendors like Juniper Networks, Brocade and Hewlett-Packard are rapidly building out their SDN and NFV portfolios, while other companies like VMware are looking to SDN to build out their data center offerings. Cisco Systems also is adopting SDN while incorporating it into its larger Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) strategy, which leverages its hardware software expertise to create infrastructures that can improve the performance of applications. There also are a host of smaller vendors, including Big Switch and Plexxi, that are carving out their places in the highly competitive space.

In addition, there are other vendor-led industry groups—most notably the OpenDaylight Project and the Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV)—that are looking to create software-based open platforms to accelerate the adoption of the technologies.