ONF, ON.Labs to Merge

Two early players in open source to join forces in promoting faster open source SDN deployment.

October 19, 2016

5 Min Read

PALO ALTO, Calif. -- The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) and Open Networking Lab (ON.Lab), two pioneering non-profit organizations dedicated to the widespread adoption of SDN, today announced an agreement to become a single organization under the ONF name. Joint operations will begin immediately, and will be led by ON.Lab Founder and Executive Director, Guru Parulkar. The legal combination of Open Networking Foundation and ON.Lab is expected to be completed in late 2017; until that time, the organizations will maintain the integrity of both organizations and separate but closely affiliated operations.

According to Allied Market Research, the SDN market is expected to reach $132.9 billion by 2022. The affiliation between ONF and ON.Lab will chart the next phase of SDN, helping owners and operators of large networks reduce their capital and operational costs and assist them in more easily creating and deploying new services.

“Over the last few years, it has become clear that SDN standards and open source software development must come together. Open source is critical to SDN deployment,” said Parulkar. “With the combination of ONF and ON.Lab, we are shaping the future of networking by bringing standards and open source efforts under a single umbrella. This will build real synergy between the two – letting open source development and deployment guide standards development. We believe that standards based on widely adopted open source projects such as Open Daylight, ONOS, OPNFV, and CORD can be more widely and easily implemented within the industry. This emphasis on open source, supported by ON.Lab’s successful software development, will guide ONF’s ongoing standards work, including updates to OpenFlow.”

Under this new paradigm, the organizations will bring together the operations, membership, budget and employees of both organizations, including ONF’s 110 member companies and ON.Lab’s ecosystem of more than 70 companies and 17 partners. ONF will be governed by an interim board of directors through the end of 2017. The interim board will include a mix of communications and cloud services delegates from companies including AT&T, Google, NTT Communications, SK Telecom, and Verizon.

A new ONF board, to be announced in early 2017, will be comprised of directors elected by the ONF membership at large, and from each of the large open-source software projects, ONOS and CORD. The ONOS and CORD project boards and governance will continue unchanged.

“Agreeing to combine the two organizations is a win for everybody. ONF’s standards work will benefit from ON.Lab’s much larger software development team, allowing ONF to derive useful standards from deployed open source software,” said Google’s Urs Hölzle, current chairman of the ONF Board. “ON.Lab’s software development projects will benefit from ONF’s global recognition, and its large membership representing almost every company in the networking industry.”

The union of ONF and ON.Lab will offer increased benefits to members of both organizations without any changes in existing membership fees. Members will benefit from the development of industry standards that will now follow successful open source trials in production environments, critical to real-world deployment by service providers, network operators and any startup or vendor that is looking to accelerate SDN adoption.

ONF will continue advancing ONOS, the software-defined networking (SDN) OS, and the Central Office Re-architected as a Data Center (CORD) open source projects, which are led by The Linux Foundation and ON.Lab. The organization will also work with other open source projects such as OpenDaylight and the Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) to ensure that future ONF standards, including ongoing updates to OpenFlow, are derived from a consensus among these open source developer communities.

“AT&T with its Domain 2.0 program has been a significant investor in SDN and a sponsor and supporter of ON.Lab from the outset,” said Andre Fuetsch, ONF Board member and President of AT&T Labs and Chief Technology Officer of AT&T. “We see a lot of value in combining the best of ONF and ON.Lab. To continue driving adoption of SDN, we need both high-quality open source software for the necessary but non-differentiating infrastructure as well as open standards and APIs. This will allow us to quickly create and deploy innovative new services above and to control standard hardware below. A unified organization enables software to inform new standards and help drive much faster adoption of SDN.”

ONF will maintain its headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., where both ONF and ON.Lab are already co-located. The combined organization’s open source software development work will be jointly led by Larry Peterson and Bill Snow. Peterson currently serves as chief architect and board member at ON.Lab. Snow is ON.Lab’s current vice president of engineering. Rick Bauer, ONF’s interim executive director, will now serve as ONF’s head of standards.

Stanford Professor Nick McKeown, co-founder and board member of both ONF and ON.Lab said: “SDN has made tremendous progress in the last few years. For SDN to be widely adopted we need to produce high-quality open source software that network operators will deploy and improve. Today there is incredible innovation happening in software, in switch operating systems, programmable forwarding planes, network operating systems and new SDN/NFV orchestration systems, for example. It’s important that we combine the best standards work with the best of open source software to accelerate the deployment of both. I’m delighted to see the two most important SDN non-profit organizations unifying to accelerate mainstream adoption of SDN.”


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