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Open Networking Foundation Foresees Open-Source Software as Route to Network Standards in 2015

Open SDN to Become a Requirement for Network Operators and Skills Training to Emerge in the Upcoming Year

SDN AND OPENFLOW® WORLD CONGRESS, Düsseldorf, Germany, October 15, 2014The Open Networking Foundation (ONF), a non-profit organization dedicated to accelerating the adoption of open Software-Defined Networking (SDN), today unveiled its networking industry predictions for 2015 at Layer123 SDN and OpenFlow® World Congress in Düsseldorf, Germany. In the upcoming year, ONF Executive Director Dan Pitt forecasts that open-source software will become the predominant means toward developing industry network standards. In addition, Pitt predicts that open SDN will become a requirement among network operators in RFPs, emerging OpenFlow® products will make it the southbound standard of choice, and SDN skills training will kick into gear in 2015.

“The SDN industry has made considerable progress over the past year toward achieving mainstream adoption, and ONF has supported this progress through our work with vendors and end users to establish standards and move discussions along,” said Pitt. “We’ve already seen glimmers of these predictions taking shape over the past year, and in 2015 I believe that these trends will really take off.”

Pitt offers his predictions for SDN and the networking industry in 2015 below:

Open-source software: the new norm for network standards.
“In 2015, I predict that open-source software will be recognized as not only a legitimate but the desirable route to network standards. Vendors will look to open-source software as a way to reduce development expenses on things that don’t meaningfully differentiate products. Network operators will begin adopting open-source software directly or indirectly, or by starting a project themselves and sharing with the community to further develop it. Old networking standards folks might find this unnatural, but by now we should all know that technology moves quickly and we need to evolve or become extinct.”

Network operators will demand open SDN, not vendor SDN.
“This prediction has two important aspects. First, network operators will recognize the value of SDN, not just network virtualization or Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), both of which cannot reach their potential value without SDN underneath. Secondly, network operators, including some enterprises, will start to see through vendor solutions touted as SDN that in reality retain vendor lock-in and proprietary protocols, and in many cases do not even include the physical separation of forwarding and control. When as many operators as today are deploying new, green-field networks using SDN, they have the perfect opportunity to demand true open SDN, and demand they will. While many vendors are prepared for this, some are not, and that will be a detriment to their ability to compete for the business of savvy operators in the upcoming year and beyond.”

New OpenFlow® products will make it the default southbound choice.
“I’ve been hearing some people say that OpenFlow® is past its prime, that ‘it’s not available, and we don’t need it anyway.’ This is only wishful thinking by vendors that want to deprive network operators of an open ecosystem of commodity packet-processing hardware, and software. Great hardware support of OpenFlow® beyond version 1.0 has been rather long in coming, but it is coming. We’re already seeing notable support of OpenFlow® v1.3. Soon we can stop jumping through hoops to avoid using OpenFlow. The most interesting part of SDN for network operators is the preserve of the application, orchestration, VNF, and policy software that brings direct business value from the network – but OpenFlow® is the enabler of all that value. It’s the idea transport that connects the thinking (the apps) to the doing (the packet processing).”

Skills training will emerge as the biggest SDN growth area.
“There have been concerns about the changing role of the IT professional in the automated network since SDN’s conceptual introduction. Things are changing. The knowledge, skills, and abilities required throughout and following this transition will skew toward software rather than hardware. Up until now, there has not been a clear vision of what the new role of the IT professional might actually be. But both employers and employees have gotten keenly interested in how to adapt to the SDN world, employers for the benefit of their companies and employees for their careers. Widespread industry adoption can hardly happen without knowledgeable people leading the way in implementation and deployment, so skills training has to grow faster than actual adoption. In 2015, skills training will kick into gear.”

About ONF
Launched in 2011 by Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Verizon, and Yahoo!, the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is a growing nonprofit organization with more than 140 members whose mission is to accelerate the adoption of open SDN. ONF promotes open SDN and OpenFlow® technologies and standards while fostering a vibrant market of products, services, applications, customers, and users. For further details visit the ONF website at: http://www.opennetworking.org.