Open Innovation Pipeline

Q: Describe the Open Innovation Pipeline from the new ONF. What is it?

A: The ONF Open Innovation Pipeline provides a broadly applicable framework built on turn-key open source building blocks to deliver complete solutions for network operators. The Open Innovation Pipeline uniquely leverages both open source and software-defined standards to realize the potential of SDN and NFV, thereby reducing the friction of bringing innovation into operator networks for the benefit of operators and vendors.


Q: Why is the Open Innovation Pipeline needed?

A: The SDN movement, first initiated by the ONF, has successfully set in motion the disaggregation of networking devices and control software and fostered the emergence of a broad range open source platforms. A trend has emerged where vendors leverage open source to build closed proprietary solutions, providing only marginal benefit to the broader ecosystem. Complexity still challenges many operators, who find building solutions involves the need to integrate many layers of technology, product, customization and integration.


Q: How will the Open Innovation Pipeline accelerate innovation into deployment?

A: ONF will maintain an integrated open source platform, making it easy for new innovations to focus on where they add value. Vendors and integrators can add value and introduce offerings anywhere along the innovation pipeline. Additionally, to foster interoperability ONF will focus on developing open source interworking APIs and Models by working with the broader open source community. Additionally, data plane innovation will continue to be fostered through standards development for OpenFlow and future offerings.

Q: Is the Open Innovation Pipeline Only Focused on Service Providers?

A: Current pipelines are focused on a number of operator focused use cases, including:

  • Ultra Broadband Residential Services (R-CORD)
  • 5G Mobile (M-CORD)
  • Enterprise VPN Services (E-CORD)
  • Packet Optical Backbones (ONOS)

The ONF is currently investigating a number of Enterprise use cases. We are working with members on identifying specific solutions, and plan to apply the Open Innovation Pipeline to solutions in this space. We hope to announce some activities over the next few months, and we are interested in having internal discussions with any members who would like more details at this time.

Software Defined Standards

Q: When will there be updates to OpenFlow? What updates will be coming?

A: ONF announced the OpenFlow v1.3 test specification in late 2015. The organization is actively working on TTP (table type patterns), a standard for precisely describing the forwarding behavior of an OpenFlow compliant dataplane. This is needed because OpenFlow became so flexible and the realm of possible OpenFlow implementations became quite broad. It’s now important that we make it possible to specify what exactly each implementation is capable of.

Beyond TTP, we will be driving the disaggregation of OpenFlow, separating the wireline protocol (communication between the controller and the data plane) from the programming of the data plane in order to allow each to evolve independently.

Q: How exactly does ONF plan to go beyond OpenFlow with its standards-focused work?

A: We will drive next-generation forwarding plane advancements. This includes extending OpenFlow for different data planes (wireless, optical, etc.), as well as pushing forward the dynamic programmability of the data plane (with technologies such as P4). We will do this through standards work (OF++), and with open source interfacing to the programmable data plane (OpenFlow, P4, etc.).

Q: What is the ONF’s position on P4?

A: ONF has been working on Protocol Independent Forwarding, and P4 is one of the exciting developments in this area. The New ONF will continue to drive innovation in this area, and P4 is an important part of this innovation.


Q: How many members does the new ONF have?

A: The new ONF includes more than 200+ members representing leading tier 1 operators, major system integrators as well as a variety of small and large, global vendors.

Q: Are ON.lab partners and collaborators now ONF members?

A: Starting in February 2017, all ON.Lab partners will be invited to renew with the ONF when their annual membership is due.

Q: How will the pending merger impact existing memberships?

A: The union of ONF and ON.Lab offers immediate and enhanced benefits to members of both organizations. Existing ONF members have been ‘grandfathered’ in as ‘Innovator’ members.

 New ONF Membership Level  ON.Lab Status  ONF Status
  • Partner
  • Partner
  • Innovator
  • Adopter (or startup)
  • Collaborator
  • Collaborator
  • Volunteer
  • Volunteer


ONF members will have access to and benefit from increased open source software development work, and ON.Lab members will benefit from ONF’s ongoing standards development and industry leadership position.


Q: Why have ONF and ON.Lab decided to merge?

A: According to Allied Market Research report from June 2016, the SDN market is expected to reach $132.9 billion by 2022. While cloud computing is a major driver of SDN, if service providers and large network operators like AT&T, SK Telecom, China Telecom and Verizon are to adopt SDN, both high-quality open source software for the necessary but non-differentiating infrastructure, as well as open standards and APIs are needed.

Working together, the new ONF will have a greater influence and impact on the huge and rapidly growing SDN market as the only organization in the networking industry that combines best-of-breed standards and open source work under one umbrella.

By uniting the strengths of the ONF and ON.Lab organizations, the new ONF is also able to create the first Open Innovation Pipeline for the networking industry. By combining each organization’s resources and unique expertise, the new ONF will be able to influence and impact the huge and rapidly growing SDN market.

Q: When did/will this merger become effective?

A: In October 2016, Open Networking Lab (ON.Lab) and Open Networking Foundation (ONF) Boards of Directors signed an Affiliation Agreement with the intent to merge as a single organization under the ONF name. Joint operations, including sharing of personnel resources and operations began in October 2016 under the direction of Executive Director Guru Parulkar. The legal merger of ONF and ON.Lab will be completed in late 2017.

Q: When and how are the two organizations merging?

A: Once the merger is completed in late 2017, the new ONF will combine the operations, membership, budget and employees of both organizations. The project boards and governance will continue, unchanged. ONF will realign its OSSDN open source projects to be coordinated by a Technical Steering Team to drive alignment toward use cases and trials. ONF standards work will focus on efforts with a clear path toward accelerating use case endeavors of the new ecosystem.

The overall breadth of the work coming from the old ONF will likely compress in order to increase the impact of workstreams. ONF will increase investment in projects that have a clear consumer within the new ecosystem. OpenFlow, and an open and programmable data plane remains an essential part of the overall mission.

Building on the success of the existing ONF training and certification programs, ONF will broaden its the programs and add a developer-focus to ensure they’re well-aligned with open source both within ONF and beyond with projects like OpenDaylight.

Q: Who will lead the new ONF? Are there other changes in leadership?

A: Guru Parulkar serves as the new ONF executive director. Parulkar co-founded ON.Lab and has been involved in SDN since its beginnings at Stanford and Berkeley almost 10 years ago. The combined organization’s open source software development work will be jointly led by Larry Peterson and Bill Snow. Peterson currently serves as chief architect and board member at ON.Lab. Snow is ON.Lab’s current vice president of engineering.

Timon Sloane is the new vice president of standards and membership at ONF leading the organization’s efforts with SDN standards, skills certification, and membership. Aseem Parikh joined ON.Lab to serve as the VP of Partnerships and Solutions.

Q: Who is on the new ONF Board of Directors?

A: The new board now includes one member at large elected by the ONF membership and two project members representing each of the industry leading open source software projects, CORD and ONOS. With these changes, the ONF’s new board blends representation from leading global tier 1 network operators with the recognized industry visionaries who created the SDN movement.

The ONF board will oversee the merger, and will lead the combined organization once the merger is complete. Click here for a profile of the board members.

Q: Where will the new ONF be headquartered?

A: ONF will maintain its headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., where both ONF and ON.Lab are already co-located.

Q: How will the merger impact the ONOS and CORD open source projects? Is The Linux Foundation involved in this merger?

A: ONOS and CORD are projects hosted by The Linux Foundation, led in partnership with ON.Lab. The Linux Foundation is working to expand their ecosystems and facilitate market momentum for the technologies. The Linux Foundation also hosts Open Orchestrator, OPNFV, Open vSwitch and OpenDaylight, providing an umbrella to help its projects build ecosystems that accelerate open technology development and commercial adoption. The Linux Foundation will be working with ONF to drive a Software Defined Standards approach to developing Interoperability APIs and data models, partnering with ONF to help the ecosystem craft diverse solutions ready for production deployment.

Q: How will this merger impact intellectual property licenses?

A: All open source projects at ONF and ON.Lab are developed under permissive Apache 2.0-style licenses, and this will continue. ONF publishes normative standards under a modified RAND-Z license, and this will continue for OpenFlow standards activities.

Q: I’m not familiar with ONF. Can you share some background?

A: ONF was founded in 2011 to evangelize SDN and to standardize the OpenFlow protocol. Building a community of 110 member organizations, ONF took SDN from obscurity to the point of disrupting the entire networking market. After standardizing OpenFlow, playing a key role in the emergence of NFV and launching SDN training and certification programs, ONF earned recognition as an SDN “flag bearer” around the world.

Q: I’m not familiar with ON.Lab. Can you share some background?

A: Open Networking Lab (ON.Lab) is a non-profit organization founded by SDN inventors and leaders from Stanford University and UC Berkeley to foster open source communities for developing tools and platforms to realize the full potential of SDN, NFV and cloud technologies.

ON.Lab’s vibrant ecosystem includes an internal team that provides core engineering and project oversight, working closely with seven operator partners (AT&T, China Unicom, Comcast, Google, NTT Communications, SK Telecom and Verizon), and 10 vendor partners (Ciena, Cisco, Ericsson, Fujitsu, Huawei, Intel, NEC, Nokia, Radisys and Samsung), and more than 70 collaborating organizations. ON.Lab brings innovative ideas from leading-edge research and delivers open source platforms enabling the entire ecosystem to create solutions to transform network infrastructure.

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