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ONOS Leaps over Initial Goals & Rapidly Expands Its Ecosystem

by Pang Dan
Huawei Press Releases
by Pang Dan

SHENZHEN, China -- The ONOS community officially released Emu, the fifth version of ONOS, on its first year anniversary since the launch of Avocet. Over the past year, ONOS has witnessed rapid development and met all the goals set for 2015, including establishing a mature platform, launching value Apps, conducting service PoC, and operating a flourishing open-source community.

In terms of platform establishment, the fifth version builds heavily upon previous versions, with vital improvements to SDN/NFV functions displaying ONOS's developing maturity and dedication to cooperating with partners to build real SND/NFV solutions.

In terms of value App launching, five ONOS use cases have been published for the WAN scenario, including CORD, MPLS Segment Routing, SDN IP RAN, SDN-IP, and Packet Optical. In 2015, Huawei and ONOS jointly launched the ONOS-based IP+optical T-SDN application, the first of its kind to be developed based on an operator-oriented SDN open-source platform.

In terms of service PoC, the AT&T initiated the CORD project and worked with the ON.Lab to conduct ONOS PoC, and China Unicom successfully deployed the world's first ONOS-based SDN IP RAN to provide Internet-based premium enterprise leased lines.

In terms of open-source community operation, the ONOS team actively promoted cooperation within the open-source community. In addition to becoming part of the Open Platform for NFV Project (OPNFV), ONOS also established a partnership with the Linux Foundation. The ON.Lab and Linux Foundation will work together to provide convincing open-source solutions.

ONOS is regarded as the first operator-oriented open-source controller in the industry, and is well acclaimed by mainstream operators such as AT&T, NTT, China Unicom, and SKT (South Korea).

Born for Operators
In an era defined by ideas such as cloud computing, mobile networking, and digitalization, the borders surrounding telecom networks are breaking, and the boundary between IT and CT is heavily blurred. While cloud computing, mobile networking, and big data technologies bring more traffic and connections, they also highlight the disadvantages of telecom networks. Operators are confronted with problems such as network congestion, weak service innovation capabilities, and rising network maintenance costs.

To tackle these problems, operators are choosing to use SDN/NFV to redefine their network architecture.

The core concept of SDN is to break the stovepipe-shaped network architecture by separating the control plane from the forwarding plane. SDN uses a controller to manage network resources and interact with software applications through APIs. The network device programmability enabled by SDN greatly accelerates service and application innovation.

The SDN controller is the center piece for an SDN network. Over the past years, a variety of SDN controllers have been developed, such as NOX, Beacon, SNAC, and POX, to explore SDN possibilities. However, these controllers lack strong scalability, high availability, and high performance, and only boast conventional programming interfaces and device-oriented abstractions. As a result, these controllers are not ready for commercial use at present.

It is in this context that SDN funders (Stanford and Berkeley universities) started to develop SDN controllers. After experimenting with many various types of controllers, they developed what is now known as ONOS.

The ONOS architecture is uniquely designed from the perspectives of both operators and service providers. First, the ONOS architecture is characterized by high reliability, high availability, strong scalability, and low latency. The resource abstraction and scenario designs are catered to operator requirements, and the SDN control plane provides carrier-grade features. Second, the powerful NBIs and SBIs facilitate new service provisioning, creating greater network agility. Last, the southbound abstraction layer supports interaction with devices and protocol plug-ins, meaning ONOS can control both OpenFlow and conventional devices to facilitate SDN migration. To accelerate commercial deployment, the ON.Lab released ONOS versions at an interval of three months. A total of five ONOS versions have been released so far.

Accelerating Commercial Deployment
The year 2015 marks the successful deployment of China Unicom (Tianjin)'s ONOS-based SDN IP RAN enterprise leased line service, a milestone event for ONOS. This case lays a solid foundation for future application of ONOS to operator networks.

On November 27, 2015, China Unicom (Tianjin) successfully established an L2VPN leased line on an ONOS-based IP RAN between its Shaoxingdao office and Xiaoshulin office. This project enables China Unicom (Tianjin) to accelerate leased line service deployment and provisioning on the IP RAN, adjust subscriber bandwidth on demand, and allow bandwidth reservations from subscribers.

ONOS has also proven to be successful on various research networks. In June 2015, Internet2 successfully deployed ONOS on its research and education network in the Indiana University. Internet2 used ONOS to provide FlowSpace firewall-based virtual networks, improving Internet2's working efficiency and reducing costs.

In August 2015, the Florida International University and the ONOS community announced they had successful deployed ONOS and its SDN-IP peering application on the AmLight network, creating an SDN facility entirely based on OpenFlow. Five Latin American research and education networks – Academic Network at Sao Paulo (ANSP), Brazilian National Research and Education Network (RNP), Latin American Advanced Networks Cooperation (RedClara), National University Network of Chile (REUNA) and the Caribbean Knowledge and Learning Network (CKLN) – interconnect Brazil, Chile, and the Caribbean, with the U.S. via a virtual slice of the AmLight network.

As AT&T initiates the CORD project, ONOS commercial deployment will further accelerate.

Telecom vendors are also making vigorous efforts to advance ONOS commercial deployment. In the middle of December, 2015, Ciena announced a cooperative venture with the ON.Lab to develop commercial ONOS controller software. This software will help operators transform traditional offices into distributed data centers.

This software is intended to meet the requirements of AT&T's CORD project. Ciena does not plan to make the product a patented one, but a software service charged on a yearly basis for code bug fixing.

Expanding Ecosystem
Initially, the ONOS community had only two operators and six telecom vendors. Over the past year, the ONOS ecosystem has expanded continuously.

In 2015, following AT&T and NTT, tier-1 operators China Unicom and SKT (South Korea) also became ONOS members.

Initially, only telecom vendors Ciena, Ericsson, Fujitsu, Huawei, Intel, and NEC were in the ONOS community. In August 2015, Cisco officially joined the ONOS community.

In November 2015, Alcatel-Lucent joined the ONOS community, expressing its interest towards IP and optical multi-layer virtualization solutions. Alcatel-Lucent said by providing resources to, and actively participating in, the ONOS project, it could better contribute its knowledge and experience to SDN open-source projects, delivering benefits to the entire operator and service provider communities.

In December 2015, ECI, a flexible network solution provider for service providers and data center operators, joined the ONOS community. ECI will develop an open-source SDN controller that supports its SmartLIGHT solution.

In addition, the ONOS community is proving to be increasingly active. At the beginning of 2015, the ONOS community witnessed 30,452 visits from 4,564 independent IP addresses in one day. In the space of 10 months, during October, 2015, the ONOS community witnessed 130,000 visits from 8,582 independent IP addresses in one day.

ONOS is increasingly favored by the SDN industry chain, enjoying a rapidly expanding ecosystem. ONOS has now become operators' first choice for open-source SDN controller platforms.

Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.

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