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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