Monday, August 13, 2012

ONF's Technical Work Advances with New Initiatives

The Open Networking Foundation (ONF), whose mission is to advance software defined networking (SDN), has begun work on four new initiatives focused on new network orchestration interfaces, OpenFlow beyond Ethernet connections for optical networks, northbound APIs for management and billing, and future forwarding plane models. The efforts include Architecture and Framework, Northbound API, Forwarding Abstractions, and New Transport.

The ONF said these new efforts will focus on applications and behaviors of the technology areas of SDN beyond the OpenFlow protocol with the goal of accelerating the transition from legacy architectures.

The specific focus of these efforts will be:

Architecture and Framework: this new effort will look at upper layer orchestration of the network in order to expose the various interfaces and elements of SDN, how they relate to each other and legacy networking, and what ends they need to serve in a wide-variety of networks.

New Transport: this initiative will investigate how to use OpenFlow and switches not just between Ethernet ports, but between fibers, wavelengths, wireless channels and circuits. Physical transports will benefit from network virtualization and the use of OpenFlow in a variety of physical infrastructures beyond the data center in carrier, optical, and wireless networks.

Northbound API: this initiative will help move from a patchwork of different APIs to a standard method of interfacing between OpenFlow and the control plane. The effort will heighten the understanding and define what software layers should be above and below OpenFlow within the networking infrastructure, and in particular how the capabilities of the network match the requirements of the applications. Creators of network-control applications are eager to write for the northbound edge of an OpenFlow controller. Therefore the initiative will survey and catalog the APIs that exist, define how to characterize them, outline what they are intended to be used for, and how they interact with the network. Cataloging and characterizing the APIs will offer a clear understanding of what functions the market views as important and the common thread for application scenarios. This work will aid software developers to better program and virtualize the network, and enable network operators to translate network capabilities into lucrative services.

Forwarding Abstractions: this initiative will focus on the development of next generation forwarding plane models, with a particular interest in how to exploit and differentiate the capabilities of OpenFlow based hardware switches.

"ONF is taking on myriad opportunities inherent to the growth of the SDN marketplace," said Scott Shenker, member of the ONF Board of Directors and Professor of Computer Science at UC Berkeley. "With these efforts in the Foundation, member companies will be able to further refine SDN technologies and their capabilities to continue driving commercialization of the standard. Recognizing the increasingly diverse scenarios where OpenFlow-based SDN can add value for customers, ONF stays at the forefront of network innovation. Like the OpenFlow protocol itself, these efforts are evidence that ONF – designed to be agile – is evolving with the market and technology to ensure that user demands are met rapidly and efficiently."

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