SDN organizations ONF, ON.Lab to merge

The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) and Open Networking Lab (ON.Lab), a pair of non-profit organizations that have been instrumental in laying the foundation for carrier software-defined networking (SDN), have announced that they plan to merge. While the combined entity will retain the ONF name, ON.Lab Founder and Executive Director Guru Parulkar will lead the new group.

The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) and Open Networking Lab (ON.Lab), a pair of non-profit organizations that have been instrumental in laying the foundation for carrier software-defined networking (SDN), have announced that they plan to merge. While the combined entity will retain the ONF name, ON.Lab Founder and Executive Director Guru Parulkar will lead the new group.

The legal merger process likely won't finish until late next year. However, the two groups say they will begin close collaboration immediately.

The ONF was among the first organizations to develop specifications and use cases for SDN in service provider networks (see, for example, "Open Networking Foundation plans its 2013"). This includes the application of SDN to fiber-optic networks. Among other activities, the group collaborated with the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) on an optical networking SDN demonstration in 2014. A follow-up demonstration is slated for this year (see "OIF, ONF plan SDN T-API transport API interoperability demonstration").

On.Lab has developed the popular Open Source Operating System (ONOS) for SDN infrastructures (see "ON.Lab, backed by AT&T and NTT, offers open source SDN operating system"). It also has been active in other projects, notably the Central Office Re-Architected as a Data Center (CORD) initiative (see "ON.Lab, The Linux Foundation establish CORD as formal project"). The two organizations already have worked together on projects in the past (see "ONOS, ONF team for white box and open source leaf-spine data center fabric").

An interim board of directors will govern ONF through the end of this year, after which a new board will be chosen. The interim board will include a delegate elected by the ONF membership and additional delegates from AT&T, Google, and NTT Communications. SK Telecom will represent the CORD effort and Verizon will represent the ONOS project. The interim board also will include ONF Co-Founder Nick McKeown, current ONF board member and Princeton University Professor Dr. Jennifer Rexford, and Dr. Parulkar.

The subsequent board also will have a member at large elected by the ONF membership. The other board slots will include two project members representing ONOS and CORD. Six other governing directors will be elected by the interim board. The ONOS and CORD project boards and governance will remain unchanged.

"Over the last few years, it has become clear that SDN standards and open source software development must come together. Open source is critical to SDN deployment," said Parulkar. "With the combination of ONF and ON.Lab, we are shaping the future of networking by bringing standards and open source efforts under a single umbrella. This will build real synergy between the two – letting open source development and deployment guide standards development. We believe that standards based on widely adopted open source projects such as ODL, ONOS®, OPNFV, and CORD can be more widely and easily implemented within the industry. This emphasis on open source, supported by ON.Lab's successful software development, will guide ONF's ongoing standards work, including updates to OpenFlow."

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