The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) has put several pieces in place to enact a strategic plan announced this past March that aims to help get technology based on its specifications commercialized and into the field. The operator-led open source technology consortium has created a Technical Leadership Team (TLT), developed Reference Design (RD) focus areas, and added ADTRAN, Dell EMC, Edgecore Networks,and Juniper Networks as Partners (ONF’s top membership tier) to invest in the Reference Design activities. The newly added companies join existing supply chain partners Ciena, Intel, Radisys, and Samsung.
The open-source RDs focus on technologies and concepts that the ONF’s operator leadership – which includes AT&T, China Unicom, Comcast, Google, Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica, NTT Group, and Turk Telekom – would like to deploy in the near future. Each RD will leverage completed and/or ongoing ONF efforts with the goal of completion and production by the end of this year. They include:
- SDN Enabled Broadband Access (SEBA-RD), which will build on the ONF’s Residential Central Office Re-architected as a Datacenter (R-CORD) program to support virtualized broadband access based on a variety of technologies, including PON and Gfast initially and DOCSIS in the future. Operator partners for this RD include AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, NTT, and Turk Telekom; supply chain partners include ADTRAN, Ciena, Dell, Edgecore, Juniper Networks, and Radisys.
- NFV Fabric-RD for creation of a software-defined networking (SDN) native spine-leaf data center fabric optimized for edge applications. Comcast will serve as the operator partner for the initiative, backed by supply chain partners Dell EMC, Edgecore, and Radisys.
- Unified, Programmable & Automated Network (UPAN-RD), which will build on the recently announced Stratum initiative and related foundational work to leverage P4 to enable flexible data plane programmability and acceleration of network-embedded virtual network functions (VNFs). Ciena, Dell, Edgecore and Juniper Networks will support operator partners AT&T, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Google, NTT, and Turk Telekom.
- Open Disaggregated Transport Network (ODTN-RD), which aims to create an open source software stack that will support the disaggregation of optical transponders and open optical line systems (see "ONF launches Open and Disaggregated Transport Network project”). Comcast and NTT have signed on for this RD effort, with Ciena, China Unicom, Edgecore and Juniper Networks in support.
The ONF designated mobile CORD and Cloud Optimized Remote Datacenter (so, yes, a different CORD) for multi-access edge cloud applications as “Trailblazing Projects” that aren’t yet ready to move to RD status.
The new supply chain partners have been active within the ONF for some time. For example, ADTRAN has participated in the R-CORD effort, and Robert Conger, CTO of Americas at the company, says that many of the pieces for the SEBA-RD are already in place. He added that the philosophy behind the SEBA-RD is consistent with that ADTRAN has pursued with its Mosaic Software Defined Access platform (see “ADTRAN Mosaic platform aims at software-defined access networks”). For these reasons, Conger said ADTRAN likely would be able to offer a commercial grade version of the SEBA-RD this year if it chose.
Conger said that the ONF was looking for supply chain partners that had both the necessary expertise and the willingness to commit to development and delivery of the RDs. “ADTRAN is a leading provider of open networking communications solutions and services and understands we need to do more to accelerate the adoption of open solutions in operator networks,” confirmed ONF Executive Director Guru Parulkar. “ADTRAN has shown success working within a multi-vendor ecosystem, which is why we are excited they have decided to take a formal, active role in helping to transform the edge of operators' networks with solutions based on open source hardware and software."
The eight-person TLT, led by Chair Robert Howald, vice president of network architecture at Comcast, and Vice Chair Al Blackburn, vice president, Domain 2.0 Architecture and planning at AT&T, will assume responsibility for technical strategy and direction of the ONF community.
“Comcast is excited about the positive benefits open-source platforms and solutions are delivering across the industry,” said Howald. “ONF’s work on reference designs represents an important step forward in open source development for the edge cloud, and we’re looking forward to participating.”
“AT&T has been a strong advocate of ONF’s open-source initiatives and we believe we are now at the cusp of deploying open source based solutions for next-generation broadband access, further driving open solutions to the edges of networks,” added Blackburn. “Reference Designs are being formed to help ensure the success of this effort, and to clearly indicate to the ecosystem where we and our fellow operators are headed.”
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