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Three. Years.

Apr 9, 2014

Executive Director Dan Pitt celebrates ONF’s third birthday with a look back at organization’s accomplishments.  

Can you believe it’s been only three years since ONF’s public launch? For those of you who were around then, can you believe how little we started with? I find birthdays to be a great opportunity to reflect on the years gone by (especially other people’s birthdays). I enjoy trying to reconcile the person of the past with the person today. With my kids, their character stays with me, as do my feelings for them. With myself, I struggle finding the common thread with the current me. With ONF, it’s practically impossible.

Since the beginning, ONF has focused its efforts on accelerating the adoption of open Software-Defined Networking (SDN) through standards development and a lot of explaining about SDN. Critical to this mission are our member companies. In just three years, we’ve seen our membership grow from the 23 member companies at launch to more than 140 today, representing vendors, service providers, resellers, enterprises, trainers and consultants, and end users. They range from single practitioners to small startups to huge multinationals. They are, in effect, representative of the networking industry.

Through the efforts of our member companies, we’ve drafted implementable standards, demonstrated prototype SDN solutions, conducted interoperability experiments and PlugFests, supported the commercialization of the OpenFlow® protocol standard, and explored the upper reaches of SDN where customer value is most evident. We’ve established a growing number of Working Groups to tackle the most important issues related to SDN, offering opportunities for member companies to take leadership roles within the organization and present and discuss ideas of interest to them. Over the past year, we have created four new Working Groups and three Discussion Groups addressing the topics of Optical Transport, Migration, Northbound Interfaces, Wireless and Mobile, Security, Layer 4-7, and Carrier-Grade SDN, each of which is crafting its own set of documents to help inspire implementations and propel open SDN adoption. Throughout, we have been the steadfast advocate of truly open interfaces that encourage innovation and make open networking worthwhile.

I’m also very proud of another highlight from the last year – the awarding of the first certificate through our OpenFlow® Conformance Testing Program. This program offers vendors an opportunity to demonstrate product compliance with the OpenFlow® specification, and an ONF Certificate of Conformance is a definite achievement. ONF member company NEC was the first to receive this recognition, and many additional companies are now putting their products through the conformance testing process. Indeed, our conformance testing and certification program is headed for lasting value in the marketplace.

While we have accomplished so much during the last year, none of this would have been possible without ONF’s ongoing work to build upon the OpenFlow® protocol. OpenFlow® originated in 2008 through the work of Stanford University, and OpenFlow® 1.0 was released in December of 2009. Since then, OpenFlow® has undergone multiple iterations to match the growing demand for features and flexibility, and ONF is the steward of this work. Perhaps the biggest surprise to me is the work of the entire packet-processing industry – think of all the companies represented on our Chipmakers Advisory Board plus many software-only innovators – to bring spectacular innovation and performance to the forwarding plane. In addition, ONF collaborates with a variety of industry groups and organizations including ETSI, IEEE, ODCA, the Open Compute Project, and OpenDaylight to advance our respective missions and build out the OpenFlow® substrate to meet the needs of network end users. While we continue to solidify this foundation, we are increasingly assisting the eager operators to extract SDN’s benefits despite where they may be on the OpenFlow® adoption curve.

Our mission would not be complete without the contributions of our stalwart Market Education Committee, who have educated thousands around the globe on what SDN means to them and their businesses. They keep us grounded in real value, not just technology, and are the frequent face of ONF to the world at large.

In the last three years, ONF has earned and enjoyed many successes, including those described above. As the organization continues its work in helping turn a Stanford University project into a commercially viable and open solution, we are excited to see what the next year and beyond will bring. We cannot wait until the day that open SDN is the networking norm. But until then, we raise our glasses in thanks to our member companies and their customers in the networking industry – and to the now over 2,000 individuals that are part of the ONF community – who are committed to accelerating the adoption of open SDN.

Cheers! Prost! Salud! Kampai乾杯! לחיים! 干杯! Santé! في صحتك! Cin cin! 건배! Saúde! চিয়ার্স!

– Dan Pitt, Executive Director