ONOS SDN Project Joins Linux Foundation

Officials with the year-old project are looking to the Linux Foundation for help in growing the community around its open-source offerings.

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The ONOS Project, less than a year after launching the first release of its open-source software-defined networking platform, is now joining the Linux Foundation in hopes of accelerating the reach of its technology.

The two groups announced a strategic alliance Oct. 13 in which the ONOS Project will be able to leverage the Linux Foundation's capabilities and strong reputation within the tech industry to help grow its offerings and its community.

Linux Foundation officials "bring a number of resources and also provide a measure of trust and sustainability through a well-built brand that delivers extended reach to our collaborative community and accelerates innovation on an even larger scale," Guru Parulkar, executive director and board member at ON.Lab/ONOS Project. "ONOS' services provider, vendor, and research partners welcome the partnership and look forward to the benefits of scale, awareness and sustainability that it will provide."

The ONOS Project was launched last year by the Open Networking Lab (ON.Lab), created by researchers from Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley, who helped develop the initial software-defined networking (SDN) technology. At the time of the launch, it had the backing of such vendors as Intel, Fujitsu and Huawei Technologies, and has since added Cisco Systems, AT&T, Ericsson and China Unicom to its ecosystem.

It also joined an array of other industry groups—such as OpenDaylight and the Open Networking Foundation (ONF)—looking to create open-source SDN and network-functions virtualization (NFV) platforms that vendors can use when developing their network virtualization technologies.

ONOS is targeting its open-source network operating system at service providers, saying it enables customers to make their networks more agile and scalable while driving down capital and operational expenses. ONOS officials see the partnership with the Linux Foundation as a way to expand and better engage with its community of partners, contributors and developers by enabling the organization to use tools and best practices developed by the foundation.

"Service providers are increasingly adopting open-source software to build their networks and today are making open source and collaboration a strategic part of their business and an investment in the future," Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin said in a statement. "The partnership combines the best of the two organizations' capabilities in support of a strategic vision to transform service provider infrastructure with open-source SDN and NFV."

Through the partnership with the foundation, ONOS officials are hoping to speed up the process of developing platforms and use cases for its technology by taking better advantage of and growing the contributions from the community.

The group has issued four releases of ONOS since December 2014, when it unveiled the first one. The architecture hits all the needs of customers, including scalability, high performance, modularity and support for OpenFlow and other southbound protocols, according to officials. They added that the group will continue operating as they have in the past and will keep its board members, though they expect to improve their efforts in building and leveraging its open-source community.

Another group that is operating as a Linux Foundation project is OpenDaylight. According to Neela Jacques, OpenDaylight's executive director, ONOS' joining the foundation will be good for both the industry and OpenDaylight, though there could be some short-term bumps in the road.

In a post on the group's blog, Jacques wrote that he often has been asked whether OpenDaylight and ONOS compete, and how things will play out.

"I continue to believe we're all better off that both OpenDaylight and ONOS have explored and created great innovations and continue to have market traction," he wrote. "At the same time, we need to recognize that the user community needs us to find a way to come together to drive towards greater collaboration, integration and rationalization. … Open-source projects succeed by striking the perfect balance between fostering innovation and enabling standardization. That which stays the same is doomed to become irrelevant."

Jacques applauded the work ONOS has done, particularly in such areas as investigating how networks need to change if operators want to rely on white-box systems. However, he said it's unlikely the group's technology could become the "de factor industry SDN and NFV platform." OpenDaylight is too far ahead, with a code base on which more than 20 solutions have been built and deployed in carrier, service provider and enterprise networks, a strong end-user community and a mature governance model.

"The most obvious solution is for the two projects to come together more closely," Jacques wrote, adding that the Linux Foundation is good at fostering collaboration.