Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Open Net Effort Eyes ‘Industrialized’ SDN, NFV 

(Supphachai Salaeman/Shutterstock)

Open networking organizations have announced a new development framework aimed at advancing software-defined networks and network virtualization via open source platforms, network device disaggregation and new network standards.

The Open Network Foundation (ONF), which is in the process of merging its operations with the Open Networking Lab, a group of more than 200 network operators and vendors, said this week the partners are launching a new initiative dubbed Open Innovation Pipeline. The effort will seek to build on earlier efforts to leverage SDN and network function virtualization (NFV) technologies by "industrializing" the development processes used to create open network platforms.

Those efforts include the Open Network Operating System (ONOS) and CORD, which stands for "Central Office Re-architected as a Datacenter."

The foundation currently works with network operators to develop frameworks based on "high-value use cases." It then pushes those architectures through prototyping, trials and deployment.

The partners said they now aim to deploy open network platforms based on the separation of networking devices and control software. "The industry needs a unifying effort to build solutions out of the numerous disaggregated components," the foundation noted in announcing the networking initiative.

"This pipeline allows members of all types to bring their unique innovation and value into the solution," Guru Parulkar, executive director of ONF, noted in a statement. "Operators, vendors and integrators all have a role to play, and the pipeline helps integrate these contributions into consumable solutions for operators."

Proponents of the open networking approach argue that it would benefit network operators and integrators as well as vendors of networking equipment. For carriers, they asserted that SDN and NFV approaches would deliver " cloud-like DevOps efficiencies to the carrier network."

Backers also foresee and opportunity for system integrators as pent up demand for network modernization creates skills gaps for operators. Among them are providing network deployment assistance based on the CORD and ONUS frameworks.

Foundation members include major network carriers such as AT&T, NTT Communications (NYSE: NTT) and SK Telecom (NYSE: SKM) as well as hyper-scalers such as Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL). "The networking space has been slowest to offer end-to-end open source alternatives," noted Urs Hölzle, ONF chairman and Google's senior vice president for technical infrastructure.

"SDN is a chance to re-architect how networks are built, and while so doing, presents the perfect inflection point for open source to take on a pivotal role," Hölzle added.

The open networking effort follows an announcement earlier this month that ONF member AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T) released its code for automating network virtualization. The ECOMP networking code was donated to the Linux Foundation for use in a new networking automation initiative. ECOMP stands for "enhanced control, orchestration, management and policy."

As open networking efforts gain momentum, ONF said its merger with the Open Networking Lab should be completed by the end of this year.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).