The Open Networking Foundation announced Tuesday that it’s letting startups join the organization for just $1,000 per year, rather than the usual $30,000 per year.
That comes with full membership privileges; the startups don’t have to sit at the kiddie table during ONF gatherings. A “startup,” by the way, is defined here as a company within two years of its incorporation. Sorry, but having the media call you a “startup” doesn’t get you the discount.
The rationale behind the $30,000 figure was that the ONF only wanted serious participants, not hangers-on who just wanted to snoop in on the meetings. In early 2011, when the ONF got started, there was a thicker line between the software-defined networking (SDN) believers and non-believers. (Or, in some cases, between the believers and those who hadn’t heard about it.) The ONF needed members committed to furthering the OpenFlow cause.
Now, everybody is on board with SDN. The definitions of “SDN” vary, but everybody wants to participate. For the companies that have popped up since 2011, that $30,000 suddenly seems like the wrong kind of barrier — at SDNCentral, we’ve heard companies grumble about it — so, the ONF is giving them an easier way to join up.
Moreover, the ONF and its membership have changed. “Initially, we were doing a standard, and a standard needs to be done by implementation. Today, we’re doing northbound APIs and OA&M [operations, administration, and management] and software ecosystems. There’s no silicon involved,” Pitt says.
(Updated to include Pitt’s comments and our own “grumble” observation.)