ONF launches Open Innovation Pipeline to fight SDN fragmentation

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The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is announcing its new Open Innovation Pipeline, which aims to chart “the next phase of SDN and NFV”, leveraging network device disaggregation, open source platforms and software-defined standards to counter the fragmentation of the SDN market as vendors use open-source technology to build proprietary solutions.

The Open Innovation Pipeline is the product of the aligned operations of ONF and Open Networking Lab (ON.Lab), which are currently in the process of finalize their pending merger.

ON.Lab, with CORD and ONOS, successfully brought together operators, vendors and integrators to build solutions for carrier networks by leveraging SDN, NFV and cloud technologies through an open source approach to solution creation.

Operators have embraced the approach, and the industry is in the midst of a resulting transformation revolutionizing how solutions will be built for 5G mobile, ultra broadband and other next-generation networks.

Building on the success of CORD and ONOS, the ONF is industrializing and opening the process that enabled the creation of those platforms. Central to the approach is to leverage the ONF’s deep relationships with operators to validate the vision, a focus on high-value use cases and solutions, and solidifying pre-established paths for taking solutions into operator PoCs (proof of concepts), trials and deployment.

Now that the SDN movement has successfully set in motion the disaggregation of networking devices and control software and fostered the emergence of a broad range of open source platforms, the ONF says the industry needs a unifying effort to build solutions out of the numerous disaggregated components. A trend has emerged where vendors leverage open source to build closed proprietary solutions, providing only marginal benefit to the broader ecosystem.

The ONF’s Open Innovation Pipeline intends to counteract this trend by offering greater returns to members who participate in the ONF’s collaborative process. Through making active contributions to the Open Innovation Pipeline, vendors benefit from inclusion in CORD and ONOS solutions, thereby gaining access to operator deployments.

Any ONF member with a valuable contribution can insert their unique innovation anywhere along the pipeline, and the momentum of the pipeline will pull the innovation into operator PoCs, trials and beyond.

Furthermore, to promote interoperability with diverse components of the open source ecosystem, ONF is driving a software-defined standards approach to developing Interoperability APIs and data models. Through this effort, the ONF intends to help the ecosystem craft diverse solutions ready for production deployment.

“The ONF’s Open Innovation Pipeline lowers the barrier to entry by providing a broadly applicable framework built on open source building blocks to deliver complete solutions for network operators,” said Guru Parulkar, executive director of ONF, ON.Lab and Stanford Platform Lab. “Perhaps more importantly, this pipeline allows members of all types to bring their unique innovation and value into the solution. Operators, vendors and integrators all have a role to play, and the pipeline helps integrate these contributions into consumable solutions for operators.”

“Open source has had a dramatic impact on the networking industry,” according to Timon Sloane, ONF’s VP of standards and membership. “Gone are the days when standards drove innovation. Open source is moving much more quickly than the traditional standards process, and as such we are recrafting the ONF’s mission around standards to include a focus on deriving Interoperability APIs and Data Model from open source in order to promote interoperability. It is very important to us that all the pieces of this new ecosystem can play well together, and we see this expanded focus as central to enabling the crafting of solutions from the disaggregated components now taking shape across the industry.”

The ONF says all players in the networking ecosystem stand to benefit from the Open Innovation Pipeline.

For operators, the ONF is helping to turn the network into a strategic asset for the 21st century, enabling innovation and programmability and bringing cloud-like DevOps efficiencies to the carrier network.

For integrators, pent up demand for network transformation has resulted in a skills gap within operators, creating a unique market opportunity for integrators. System integrators can add value to the pipeline by contributing with service customization, solution packaging, verification and deployment assistance, all based on the common CORD and ONOS framework.

And for vendors, the ONF’s deep relationships with operators gives member companies a unique view into the future of networking. Active members benefit by remaining on the leading edge of technology, and by leveraging the pipeline to help drive their unique innovations into operator networks.

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