PALO ALTO, Calif. — Nov. 3, 2011— With over 600 applications for a conference seating only 350, it appears that the recent Open Networking Summit at Stanford University has hit exactly the right note in an industry hungry for greater network flexibility, security, and performance.
The Summit was jointly organized by the Stanford Clean Slate Program and the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) – a phenomenon in its own right, having attracted 49 members in its first six months, including industry leaders such as Broadcom, Cisco, Dell, Ericsson, Facebook, Google, HP, IBM, Intel, Juniper, Microsoft, NEC, NTT, Verizon, and VMware. A day after the Summit, ONF's second Member Workday drew 160 registered volunteers from North America, Asia, and Europe to accelerate the technical standards for OpenFlow® and the concepts underlying network programmability.
"We're particularly encouraged by the rapid growth in membership of ONF,” says Dan Pitt, ONF's Executive Director. “It demonstrates a real collaboration between network operators, equipment vendors, networking and virtualization software suppliers, and chip technology providers to promote innovation through Software-Defined Networking."
Among the Summit's key takeaways was its confirmation that network operators face significant difficulties in managing and scaling networks, and that a growing number are looking to Software-Defined Networking (SDN) as the key to faster network evolution and better economics. By being able to program their networks the way they program their computing resources, they gain a more flexible infrastructure that allows greater control, innovation, and customization – adding up to increased performance, reliability, security, and revenue opportunities at less cost.
In the words of Lauri Oksanen, Head of Research in Nokia Siemens Networks: “SDN has the potential to revolutionize the way networks operate. Nokia Siemens Networks, as a leading vendor in telecommunication, is looking into this technology as a very promising candidate to support our vision of networks as part of a virtualized service infrastructure.”
The Member Workday, ONF's second following its first one in June, allowed the technical working groups to meet face to face as they advance the standardization work on the OpenFlow® protocol that ONF took over from Stanford at its launch in March. Typically the working groups meet online and in conference calls on a weekly, twice-weekly, or nearly continuous basis to make rapid progress on the standards, enabling the many implementers and deployers of the technology to bring their products and services to market quickly.
Software Defined Networking using the OpenFlow standard addresses the enormous difficulty of experimenting on and fine-tuning networks in the context of an organization-wide installed base of network infrastructure. Business, government, and society now rely so heavily on IT availability and performance that no one dares risk experimenting on these mission-critical networks – it is one thing to try out enhancements of an IP protocol on a quarantined laboratory test bed, but to run a more realistic test across a live data center or WAN might bring the system to a standstill. Instead, ONF is leading the creation of a control plane distinct from the network's data delivery plane together with a standardized network management interface allowing, for example, a data-center network to be made as flexible and responsive as the virtual servers that it supports.
The first public demonstration of SDN was at the InteropNet Lab, during the May 2011 Interop trade show in Las Vegas. It was based on the ONF's OpenFlow® standard, currently evolving toward multi-vendor means to control the way packets are forwarded through switches and routers. Last week's Summit built on this with 20 demonstrations of the value of SDN for enterprises, data centers, and service providers as well as providing news of the many different organizations currently working on SDN technologies. There were also two OpenFlow/SDN tutorial sessions whose 200 participants learned either how as managers they could reap the customer benefits of SDN or as engineers how to implement an OpenFlow® network on their laptops and program it using SDN techniques.
Among the comments was Arne Josefsberg, until recently General Manager of Windows Azure Infrastructure at Microsoft, saying: “As the owner and operator of one of the largest networks of data centers, Microsoft recognizes the potential of highly programmable network management systems to boost the capabilities of our cloud computing platform in a profound way.” Stuart Elby, Vice President of Network Architecture & Technology at Verizon, added: “We believe the ONF effort will accelerate the development of key network capabilities, which will help evolve our networks to be more responsive to our customers' needs.”
The widespread industry takeup, plus the buzz and involvement of last week's sell-out conference, confirms SDN as a major revolution in networking, and a second major conference is planned for April 2012 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Pre-registration and preliminary details of the second Open Networking Summit are available here. ONF continues to invite players from all relevant sectors to join and steer this exciting movement.
Launched in March, 2011 by Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Verizon, and Yahoo!, the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to bring programmability to networks and quickly and collaboratively bring to market standards and solutions. ONF will accelerate the delivery and use of Software-Defined Networking (SDN) standards and foster a vibrant market of products, services, applications, customers, and users. For further details visit their website at: https://onfstaging1.opennetworking.org.
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