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ON.Lab Intros Open Source SDN OS

Mitch Wagner
11/4/2014
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The Open Networking Lab (ON.Lab), a non-profit organization founded by SDN inventors and leaders from Stanford University and UC Berkeley, today introduced the open source SDN Open Network Operating System (ONOS).

Available for download from December 5, ONOS is designed to facilitate agile service creation and deployment at scale on any hardware, including so-called "white boxes."

The OS is initially targeted to service providers, with later iterations focused on cloud service providers, enterprise and mainstream deployments.

Founding members of the ONOS initiative include AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), NTT Communications Corp. (NYSE: NTT), Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN), Fujitsu Ltd. (Tokyo: 6702; London: FUJ; OTC: FJTSY), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701)

ONOS is designed to allow providers to gradually migrate existing networks to SDN by supporting multiple southbound devices and interfaces in addition to OpenFlow. It gives operators the ability to move from proprietary hardware and operating systems to an open OS, says Ram Appalaraju, strategic advisor for ON.Lab

Based on the high-level description, ONOS sounds a lot like OpenDaylight : They're both open source software for controlling switches. But OpenDaylight doesn't deliver scalability and performance to the point that carriers expect for high availability, according to Appalaraju.

While ONOS is designed to run on white boxes, OpenDaylight is designed to provide continued support for legacy devices, says Guru Parulkar, co-founder and executive director of ON.Lab. "Even though this is good for the vendors, it's not that helpful for the service providers," Parulkar states.

Is ONOS a competitor to OpenDaylight? "The intent is not to say this is in competition to OpenDaylight," Appalaraju says. "It's more about saying this is what the carriers and developers are expecting and looking for." OpenDaylight is good for incremental change, "but our intent is to bring a disruptive value proposition to service providers," he says. "Now it's not real competition, but in a couple of years how will this play out?"


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Neela Jacques, executive director of the OpenDaylight project, said that companies active with ONOS are also building projects on ODL.

He noted that Stanford has a long history in networking research, and applauded its release of open source code. "More code being made available is exactly the direction the industry should be going," Jacques noted in an email. "Our interest is in cross-pollination of efforts to benefit the industry as a whole and to make everything interoperable ... We hope to see collaboration between the developers to bring new learnings and research into ODL so we can continue down the path of uniting the industry around an open, common codebase."

Even with the backing of top researchers, NTT, AT&T, Huawei and other networking heavy hitters, a new open source SDN platform is going to face an uphill battle for adoption. Several operating systems on the market now support white box switches, including Cumulus Networks Linux and Pica8 Inc. 's PicOS.

ONOS's open source pedigree may not be enough to push it over the top: Still, it's worth watching.

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to [email protected]

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