SDN is an exciting advance in network architecture evolution that increases management efficiency and helps administrators better align network resources with business requirements. ONF is the steward of the OpenFlow® Standard, which was the first open programming interface for SDN.

While network designers, administrators, and business decision makers continue to learn about SDN and the OpenFlow® Standard, many questions remain. Some of these are addressed below. For a more comprehensive list, please see our FAQ document.

Q: What’s the difference between SDN and the OpenFlow® Standard?

A: The OpenFlow® standard is a foundational element for SDN. SDN is an emerging network architecture where network control is decoupled from forwarding and is directly programmable. The OpenFlow® Standard is the first standard communications interface defined between the control and forwarding layers of a software-defined network architecture.

Q: Can I build an SDN without using the OpenFlow® Standard?

A: You could, but you probably wouldn’t want to. Proprietary alternatives to the OpenFlow® standard lock you into vendor-defined solutions and pricing. The OpenFlow® Standard is the only standard protocol that provides communication between the control and forwarding functions; it is a vital element of an open SDN architecture.

Q: How do SDN and the OpenFlow® Standard relate to Network Function Virtualization?

A: Network Function Virtualization (NFV) is a European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) group that was formed to investigate virtualizing Layer 4 through Layer 7 functions as an alternative to using high-cost, purpose-built appliances. The NFV architecture is complementary to SDN, and several ONF members are working with the NFV group to ensure that the OpenFlow® Standard supports Layer 4 through Layer 7 virtualization.

Q: What are the roles of physical and virtual switches in SDN?

A: An OpenFlow® Standard domain in a software-defined network can include both physical and virtual switches, all controlled through the OpenFlow® protocol from a centralized controller.

Q: What is ONF currently doing to move SDN forward?

A: ONF continues to do everything in our power to make SDN a commercial reality that meets customer needs. We are paving the way for interoperable solution development by developing open standards such as the OpenFlow® Standard and the OpenFlow® Configuration and Management Protocol Standard. We are also helping to improve time-to-market and integrate testing with the OpenFlow® Standard by creating test and integration standards, and hosting periodic PlugFests. View one of our solution briefs to see the business and technical deployment opportunities in a wide range of markets, including enterprise data center, public/hybrid clouds, and Carrier SDN.

Our Members

For a more comprehensive list, please download our pdfFAQs.

For a more comprehensive list, please download our pdfFAQs.

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