If you want to transform something, truly change the way it’s done, you first have to break it down. The network infrastructure industry has been undergoing a major transformation and not surprisingly this has involved breaking open the network into parts, which has clear cost and agility benefits. By disaggregating networking devices and separating control from data, software-defined networking (SDN) lets operators run open-source networking software on commodity hardware to take advantage of the open networking movement that has sprung up across the industry.
However, deploying SDN has posed a challenge to operators, who now must integrate and customize hardware and software components they previously purchased as vertically integrated “stovepipe” solutions. To unleash the full potential of open networking, operators need pre-integrated open solutions that leverage open source software and network device disaggregation.
Our industry is looking to the new ONF, which brings ON.Lab and ONF under a single umbrella, to build those integrated solutions out of the numerous disaggregated components and thus help accelerate adoption of open networking, including SDN and NFV.
This mission from our industry underpins the ONF’s recently announced Open Innovation Pipeline, which is a strategy for building solutions for specific operator use cases. With active participation of network operators and other ecosystem partners, we will drive adoption of these solutions by building proof of concepts, then transitioning to lab trials, field trials, and actual deployments. We call each solution a "pipeline."
In the near term, our focus will be on service-provider solutions, many of which are well under way, but enterprise-specific networking solutions can also be developed using the Open Innovation Pipeline approach and ONF’s proven use-case model.
An open framework
The Open Innovation Pipeline is a strategy for building reference solutions for specific use cases using open source building blocks and disaggregated networking devices or white boxes. It offers a broadly applicable framework that makes it easy for vendors and integrators to add value and introduce offerings anywhere along the pipeline.
To create this pipeline, ONF is collaborating with leading network operators to leverage the efforts that led to the broad success of Central Office Re-architected as a Datacenter (CORD) and Open Network Operating System (ONOS). For example, ONF will work to solidify pre-established paths for bringing solutions into operator environments, from initial proof of concepts to trials and deployment.
ONF will maintain an integrated open source platform, making it easy for contributors to focus on added value. To foster interoperability, ONF will work with the broader open source community to develop open source interworking APIs and models. Additionally, data-plane innovation will be supported through the evolution of OpenFlow and future standards.
By providing an open platform and clear roadmap, the Open Innovation Pipeline will enable the delivery of solutions integrating the best of SDN, NFV and cloud technologies.
Building on CORD
The service provider and telecom communities have benefited from CORD because of the unique value it brings to the telco central office. CORD enables white-box economics, cloud-like elasticity, DevOps efficiencies, and operational agility in a market segment that has been burdened with antiquated ways of building networks.
The success of CORD and ONOS is largely the result of ON.Lab’s work to bring together operators, vendors, and integrators who leveraged SDN, NFV and cloud technologies through an open source approach to build solutions for carrier networks. Consequently, CORD and its variants -- M-CORD (5G mobile), E-CORD (enterprise VPN services), and R-CORD (ultra-broadband residential services) -- are among the first use cases in the innovation pipeline.
With CORD, ONF has a proven model for creating innovative solutions, one that brings all contributors together, leverages open source platforms and software-defined standards, and encompasses successful test and verification processes.
Next stop: the enterprise
Enterprises also are in need of transformative networking solutions. In the realm of IT infrastructure, compute and storage have been revolutionized by open source offerings. It’s time for the networking community to step up to the challenge.
For our part, the ONF is currently investigating a number of enterprise use cases, working with members to identify specific solutions and to apply the Open Innovation Pipeline to build those solutions. We call upon the open source community, enterprises, integrators and other industry players to join us in the effort to bring pre-integrated SDN solutions to market.