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Leading Service Providers Unveil Their Strategic Plan for the ONF to Drive Open Source Solutions Into Production

- Operators agree to expand ONF mission to create Reference Designs as Gold Standards for the industry, and Exemplar Platforms as Reference Implementations

- New ONF governance announced to execute on the new strategic plan

MENLO PARK, Calif., March 26, 2018 - Today the operator partners leading the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) announced a new strategic plan for the ONF to help the industry move open source, next-generation SDN solutions into production in their networks. The ONF operators, AT&T, China Unicom, Comcast, Google, Deutsche Telekom, NTT Group, Telefonica, and Turk Telekom jointly developed and unanimously approved this plan.

The ONF’s work is having a significant impact across the networking landscape. The open source projects ONOS, Trellis and CORD have gained significant traction with operators.  Eighteen tier-1 operators are actively testing and trialling, and at least two tier-1 operators are moving into production with projects in 2018.

At the same time, operators have recognized a lack of clarity on common platforms. Unnecessary customization drives variants and unique requirements into the ecosystem, which in turn drives complexity and cost. There is a need to help identify common platforms that will be deployed across multiple operators and to help the industry rally and benefit from shared investment

“The ONF is pleased to share our new 2018 strategic plan for market transformation,” said Andre Fuetsch, President and Chair of the ONF Board, and Chief Technology Officer and President, AT&T Labs. “This plan will position ONF as a premier, operator-driven community and will better align and accelerate open systems solutions to the marketplace. The plan is highlighted by two major components: 1) operators and ONF will work together to create common modular reference designs using components such as white boxes and open source platforms, and 2) operators and ONF will work on driving the components of the reference designs to be production-ready, and in selected areas will create integrated implementations of the designs.”

Reference Designs

Operators are organizing to address the need for common platforms by working together inside the ONF to create Reference Designs (RDs) to serve as “gold standards” for combining component projects into common platforms upon which operators will build solutions.  Each RD will be championed by a select group of operators, and will be designed with participation by invited supply chain partners sharing the vision and demonstrating active investment in building open source solutions.

RDs will describe how a collection of projects can be assembled to address specific needs as a deployable platform. The components can come from across the industry and are not limited to ONF projects.  Each reference design is to serve as a blueprint for the industry, backed by specific operator interest. More mature RDs will also be backed by operator plans to move an implementation of the RD towards production.  Operators are currently considering a few areas of focus, including: fixed and mobile broadband access, leaf-spine data center fabrics, multi-access edge, 5G solutions at the edge and a continued push with SDN so our industry can realize the full potential of software-defined.

By investing in reference designs, operators intend to make clear to the industry what solutions they plan to procure and deploy.  Additionally, by providing opportunities for like-minded suppliers to participate in reference design creation and in building of the open source platforms, forward looking companies will be positioned to serve the emerging market for solutions based on open source platforms.

“Operators’ commitment to take open source solutions into production represents the next big step in realizing the full potential of software-defined, disaggregation and open source. It is also heartening to see operators' determination to enable a new supply-chain that is well aligned with their goals. Clearly this is a landmark moment and it will set our industry on a new course for years to come. I am delighted that operators consider the ONF their partner in pursuit of this important agenda,” said Guru Parulkar, Executive Director for the ONF.

“The ONF has come along way since its founding in 2011. Like all the best disruptions, SDN changed who is in control, putting network owners and operators firmly in charge of their networks for the first time,” said Nick McKeown, Professor, Stanford University and ONF Board Member. “Today, we take it for granted that if you own a network you can write, edit, commission or simply download the software that controls your network. One of the ONF's lasting contributions has been to drive an open-source software ecosystem for networking -  including ONOS, Trellis and CORD - and rallying those who own and operate big and small networks alike. While transformation takes time, the keys are steadily being handed over, allowing a Cambrian explosion of new ideas to take root, and breaking the stranglehold of the old ways.”

Component Projects

Reference designs outline how various component projects can be combined in a modular way to craft platforms.  ONF community will continue to advance projects such as ONOS, Stratum, Trellis and VOLTHA as these are viewed as important components to be used when building Exemplar Platforms.

Exemplar Platforms

The ONF’s work on platforms like CORD will be enhanced to reinforce RDs.  The ONF community, with operator support, will expand in size and scope as necessary to build exemplar platforms for more mature RDs in order to flush out the platform using a ‘software before standards’ mindset that has proven so successful with CORD.  Each platform will create an instantiation of an RD that can easily be trialed and then customized by operators as they build solutions to suit their particular needs. Platforms may be focused on a range of outcomes, from proof-of-concept for more exploratory work to field-trial-ready where operators and the community pool resources to invest in a platform with significant shared traction.

Open Source Supply Chain

The ONF operator leadership is invested in the emergence of a new open source supply chain, backed by companies prepared to cooperatively deliver production-ready solutions based on open source and white boxes.

The operators envision a new ecosystem emerging that embraces these new approaches to building and deploying solutions.  The operators leading the ONF are committed to showing a path forward and a road to revenue for companies that step up to play an active role in this new open source era.

Reference designs will clearly indicate to the market what operators are planning to deploy.  With specific operators backing specific RDs, there should be no doubt about what platforms are gaining traction in the industry.  In turn, exemplar platforms will provide a starting point for building solutions aligned with any particular RD. This will provide a proof-of-concept, thus speeding time to market while reducing the R&D expense of building a solution.  In this way, working through the ONF, the operators will be giving the industry clear direction and the tools to rapidly innovate and deliver solutions.

New ONF Governance

The ONF is also announcing an updated governance structure to enable execution of the strategic plan.  A new Technical Leadership Team (TLT), Reference Design Teams (RDTs) and a Supplier Advisory Team (SAT) now augment the existing Project Technical Steering Teams and Use Case Steering Team.

The TLT works globally across the ONF setting the technical direction, identifying specific Reference Designs to be pursued, and bringing resources to bare for across the ecosystem from operators, the ONF, and supply-chain companies.

RDTs  each focus on a particular usage scenario, identifying both open source and closed source options for the various components of the RD.  Each RD is to serve as a blueprint for the industry outlining how a selection of components can be assembled into platforms to address specific operator needs.

Additionally, a new Supplier Advisory Team is to be recruited from ONF Partner suppliers to help inform and drive the activities being pursued under this new strategic plan.

Further details on the new governance can be found in the New ONF Strategic Plan.

Operator Commentary

“To support broad adoption of SDN, Google is contributing seed source code to jumpstart Stratum, and we are looking forward to using Stratum in our production network. The Stratum project, with its next gen SDN interfaces P4, P4Runtime, OpenConfig/gNMI and gNOI, will help the industry realize the full potential of SDN.”- Amin Vahdat, Engineering Fellow, VP and Technical Lead for Networking at Google

”Turk Telekom has embraced open source and specifically CORD and ONOS as critical building blocks for our journey to network transformation. Our association with ONF precedes our joining as a partner last year. Turk Telekom subsidiary, Argela/Netsia has been an active collaborator with ONF/ON.Lab for the past three years in developing public safety and Secure WAN solution based on the ONOS. These applications are now deployed in live field trials across Turkey. Our teams have also realized and jointly demonstrated RAN and Core slicing with M-CORD. With support from Turkey’s Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications, we have initiated planning for Mobile CORD based deployments. Lastly, we are excited to commit resources to the Stratum project to enable a truly programmable network with P4. Turk Telekom is committed to ONF’s new strategic direction and will do its best to make its mission successful, which is in full alignment with our interests.” - Dr. Paul Doany, CEO of Turk Telekom

“At Telefónica, we have been deploying CORD concept as part of our OnLife residential field trials, and are continuously developing our design as we move towards a vendor selection process. In UNICA, our leading core virtualization project, and with OSM (Open Source Mano) we have seen the positive industry impact of RFPs mandating vendors’ adoption of open platforms. We are supporting the ONF’s strategy of building reference designs to guide RFPs targeting the operator edge cloud.  This will give vendors clear direction and the ability to leverage their investment in open source platforms across a multitude of opportunities.” - Patrick Lopez, VP Networks Innovation, Telefónica

“NTT Communications is committing to ONF’s strategic plan and direction. In addition, NTT Group, that comprises of multiple operators in Japan, is actively contributing to ONF’s activities. NTT Communications is championing the ONOS based reference design and implementation for Open and Disaggregated Transport Network (ODTN) within ONF with the support of several other operators.  We are motivated to build and nurture an ecosystem that allows us to deploy and operate ODTN-based production networks. Similarly, NTT-East is driving some trials for evaluating R-CORD as a Network Edge Platform. Finally, NTT Labs is a founding member of ONF’s recently announced Stratum project.” - Dai Kashiwa, Director of NTT Communications, and ONF board member representative of the NTT Group

“China Unicom, as one of the leading service providers of China, has to constantly upgrade its infrastructure for scale as well as to achieve Capex and Opex efficiencies. ONF open source platforms leveraging white boxes and cloud technology will provide a very good solution to help China Unicom to transform its infrastructure and China Unicom is looking for the supply-chain to step up and deliver open source solutions that we can use. We plan to jointly work on Reference Designs with our peers at the ONF. Our teams have already conducted the field trial of virtual RAN (vRAN) and Service Orchestration with M-CORD. We also plan to jointly work with ONF and the related partners for initial M-CORD based deployments to meet industrial IoT requirements. We believe this will create the critical mass needed to get the supply chain to start building solutions based on an open platform that we need.” - Dr. Xiongyan Tang, Chief Scientist, Network Technology Research, China Unicom


About the Open Networking Foundation:

The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is an operator led consortium spearheading disruptive network transformation. Now the recognized leader for open source solutions for operators, the ONF first launched in 2011 as the standard bearer for Software Defined Networking (SDN). Led by its operator partners AT&T, China Unicom, Comcast, Deutsche Telekom, Google, NTT Group and Turk Telekom, the ONF is driving vast transformation across the operator space. For further information visit https://onfstaging1.opennetworking.org


Media Contact:
Greg Cross
PR for the Open Networking Foundation