< back to overview

ONF Merges Market Leading Portfolio of Open Source Networking Projects into the Linux Foundation

Organizations Seek to Broaden Adoption, Bolster Collaboration and Expedite Innovation of Broadband, Mobile and P4 Programmable Open Networking

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.Dec. 14, 2023 – The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) today announced that its portfolio of leading open source networking projects, encompassing access, edge and cloud solutions, are set to graduate to become independent projects under the Linux Foundation (LF). The move creates independent, community-led governance for the three major project areas: Broadband, Aether and P4, and sets the projects up for broader collaboration and adoption. As a result of this merger, ONF will be dissolved, transferring all operations to LF.

Since 2011, the ONF has driven a proactive agenda to build open source solutions across the spectrum of networking domains. ONF’s projects have matured and moved into production deployments worldwide, championed by tier-1 cloud and telecom operators. Following the release of ONF’s complete portfolio to open source over the past year, the ONF Board determined that the next logical step for ONF’s portfolio of projects is to give them each full independence and move them into a community-led framework.

As a result of this merger three new project directed funds are being created under LF to support the work of the technical projects, including:

  • LF Broadband Directed Fund - supports a collection of projects that transformed broadband networks and the Passive Optical Network (PON) industry. The portfolio includes the SEBA reference design for building open broadband networks, and the VOLTHA open source project for virtualizing multi-vendor PON systems. These projects are in deployment with Deutsche Telekom, Jio, Türk Telekom and elsewhere around the world.
  • Aether Directed Fund - supports the portfolio of 5G mobile networking projects, including Aether (private 5G and edge computing), SD-Core (open 5G mobile core) and SD-RAN (open RAN). Telco, commercial and research deployments rely on these projects, and a $2M US government research grant was just awarded to the project to advance energy savings and sustainability of 5G networks.
  • P4 Directed Fund - supporting a body of work enabling programmability of the networking dataplane, including P4 Architecture, Language, APIs, Applications and Platforms. This includes open source compilers and stack implementations of programmable network fabrics (SD-Fabric, Stratum), with diverse deployments from cloud to data centers and operator edge networks (e.g. Comcast, Google, SKT, Tencent, and Brazil’s air traffic control system).

Additionally, a new Open Network Models and Interfaces (ONMI) project is hosting ONF’s network modeling and interface projects (OIMT, OTCC, T-API, Wireless xHaul), the output of which various standards organizations continue to rely upon today.

“ONF is pleased to transition our robust portfolio of open source platforms into a set of LF-hosted community-led projects,” said Timon Sloane, general manager, ONF. “With this merger, the ONF’s amazing portfolio of work that has been incubated and advanced over the last decade will naturally graduate into a community-driven open source model leveraging the best practices of the Linux Foundation.”

The ONF / LF merger reflects a change in governance for the projects, but leaves in place the community-led collaborative processes for the technical projects to continue to evolve as market needs change. The ONF’s existing Technical Steering Teams (TSTs) leading each project will continue to guide the technical work. The biggest change is that new Governing Boards have been formed to lead each of the new directed funds, giving the community complete authority over the direction of the projects and the application of the approximately $5M in funding that ONF is contributing to financially seed the directed funds. The funds will be used to selectively staff engineering functions for the benefit of the projects, preserving key elements of ONF’s engineering-led model that helped lead to the enduring success of the projects.

“Linux Foundation is merging ONF’s marquee portfolio of broadband, mobile, edge and cloud networking projects under the LF umbrella to help usher in the next phase of community growth,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director, Linux Foundation. “Open source has already achieved a dramatic impact on networking, and by bringing together ONF’s body of work with the broader LF portfolio we’re creating more opportunity for collaboration, synergy and reuse to further fuel the open networking movement.”

Supporting organizations playing leadership roles on the new projects include: Cornell University, Deutsche Telekom, Google, Intel, Netsia, Radisys and Türk  Telekom.

All current ONF Members are being welcomed to join the new projects with graceful transition support, including pro rata credits for any remaining ONF membership term that can be applied for joining the new projects. Please visit opennetworking.org for more information and register for the webinar, “ONF Projects Transforming to Full Community-Led Governance”, taking place January 9, 2024 at 7:00 am PT.


Supporting quotes

“P4 is a revolutionary technology that represents the fulfillment of the original SDN vision: making networks fully programmable, from the control plane to the data plane. Started as a grassroots initiative in academia a decade ago, P4 has since matured into a thriving open-source project with robust support from across the industry. I'm delighted to see P4 become an independent organization, operating under the Linux Foundation's open governance framework, and I'm honored to help lead the community as we work together to evolve the language for a growing set of targets and use cases.”
- Nate Foster, Professor of Computer Science, Cornell University


Deutsche Telekom has been a supporter of the ONF’s journey from the beginning. Beyond ONF’s trailblazing work in disaggregation, it led the development of the VOLTHA framework that is used as a key building block in DT’s Access 4.0 network transformation project. As DT continues the journey to disaggregated and radically automated networks, we will continue to contribute to this essential work, helping to grow its community and extend collaboration with peer industry & standards organizations, most importantly the Broadband Forum, under the Linux Foundation governance.”
- Manuel Paul, Senior Expert, Deutsche Telekom

Google views P4 as a transformative networking technology that we leverage in our production networks today. We are committed to the continued success and growth in adoption of P4, and are pleased to be playing a leadership role as we merge the P4 project under the LF umbrella to help broaden adoption and grow the community.”
- Dan Lenoski,  Vice President Engineering, Network Infrastructure,  Google Cloud


Intel Labs has been a long-term ONF stakeholder, and a key contributor in ONF’s mobile 5G projects. We’re pleased to be playing a leadership role as the new ‘Aether’ project is formed under the Linux Foundation. We intend to continue our goal of building a scalable, secure, and open end-to-end network infrastructure that leverages emerging AI/ML techniques to automate and optimize deployment of innovative new applications and workloads along the client-to-edge-to-cloud continuum.”

- Pranav Mehta, Vice President & Director, Systems, Software, and Architecture Research, Intel Labs


Netsia has been at the forefront in embracing SEBA and VOLTHA technologies, and we are proud to highlight SEBA's transition to the Linux Foundation, a leap forward in broadband innovation. Our collaboration with Türk Telekom has been pivotal, bringing the Netsia BB Suite into mass production as the world's first SEBA-based, disaggregated, open, multi-vendor virtual broadband solution. This development has led to a growing ecosystem of equipment vendors and operators adopting our suite. The move to the Linux Foundation is set to further invigorate the SEBA community, propelling the future of broadband technology."
- Bora Eliacik, CEO, Netsia


Radisys is proud to have been an early supporter and contributor to ONF, and this early dedication is reflected in how we’ve been a leader incorporating open networking principles throughout our product portfolio. Our broadband product offering is based on the SEBA architecture, and leverages the VOLTHA open source platform - and this solution is in a number of production networks worldwide. We are pleased to be helping lead the LF Broadband project as it merges under the Linux Foundation umbrella, and we remain committed to helping broaden the community and growing adoption worldwide.”
- Rajesh Chundury, Vice President Customer Solutions, Radisys


“Türk Telekom is proud to show the world that a platform born from open source is used in the commercial network in a highly scalable structure, as the first operator to use the SEBA platform, developed under ONF with our contributions commercially. As an operator that produces and exports technology, we will continue to lead the SEBA community through our role in the LF Broadband Governing Board.”

- Ahmet Fethi Ayhan, Network Director, Türk Telekom


ONF was launched at the dawn of SDN, starting with the stewardship of OpenFlow. This initiated the disaggregation of networks, and from this the industry recognized that it urgently needed examples of high quality, open-source, uncompromising software - first to control networks, and then to program the forwarding plane with the emergence of P4. Today, ONF’s project portfolio has all the software needed to build networks that are fully programmable top-to-bottom and end-to-end. These projects are ready for a bigger community of developers, and LF is the ideal partner to help grow these projects. Congratulations to the entire ONF developer community for changing how the world thinks about networks.”
- Nick McKeown, Stanford/Intel, ONF Founder, P4 Founder

“Open Networking Foundation (ONF), with its sister organizations Open Networking Lab and Open Networking Summit, has been a driving force for open networking and innovation across the networking industry for over 13 years. ONF championed Software Defined Networking (SDN), disaggregation of vertically integrated networking devices, and open source. With its vibrant ecosystem, it offered open source SDN platforms for different industry segments including enterprise and service provider datacenter fabric (OpenFlow and P4 programmable), broadband access, 4G and 5G RAN (O-RAN) and mobile core, and others. Disaggregation, software-defined and open source have become mainstream, in large part due to ONF’s impact. Today’s merger of the ONF’s projects into the Linux Foundation marks the apex of ONF’s journey. Today it is amazing to witness that production networks of all types, including broadband, mobile and datacenter, are using ONF technologies and architectures.  I’m exceptionally proud of the work we have done and our impact on the networking industry.”
- Guru Parulkar, Chair ONF Board, ON.Lab & ONF Co-Founder




About the Linux Foundation

The Linux Foundation (LF) is the organization of choice for the world’s top developers and companies to build ecosystems that accelerate open technology development and industry adoption. Together with the worldwide open source community, it is solving the hardest technology problems by creating the largest shared technology investment in history. Founded in 2000, The Linux Foundation today provides tools, training and events to scale any open source project, which together deliver an economic impact not achievable by any one company. More information can be found at www.linuxfoundation.org.


About the Open Networking Foundation

The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is an operator-driven, community-led non-profit consortium fostering and democratizing innovation in software-defined programmable networks. ONF is accelerating the state-of-the-art in open networking, catalyzing creation and adoption of open disaggregated solutions leveraging SDN and open source software. For further information, visit http://www.opennetworking.org