The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is doing a bit of soul-searching, tapping into its membership’s collective opinion with a survey asking how the non-profit organization is doing and where it should be headed.
One of the nine questions asks members if “ONF is spending too much of its resources on specifications, architecture, guidelines, etc., and should instead transition as soon as possible to an open-source software-only organization, including the hiring of dedicated software developers.”
Another poses the opposite view, asking if the ONF should “retain its current focus and encourage community members and dedicated open-source projects to develop such software.”
The survey, from ONF executive director Dan Pitt, was due yesterday, and a spokeswoman for the ONF says the results will be forthcoming. The survey will be followed up with a portfolio review the ONF will be conducting at the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress, which starts Oct 12. in Düsseldorf, Germany.
In Pitt’s email to ONF’s membership, he writes that the portfolio review will target the ONF’s operator members, but all ONF members can attend. During the review, ONF staff and area directors will be on hand to provide a summary of ONF’s projects, with a focus on who the customer is and what the deliverables are.
“We will ask for real-time feedback as well as feedback after the fact,” Pitt writes.
When the ONF was founded four years ago, the OpenFlow standard that it supports was pretty much the genesis of software-defined networking (SDN). Since then, other open source organizations and implementations have come into play in support of SDN. In short, OpenFlow is no longer the big player that it once was.
The ONF’s mission has always been to accelerate the adoption of SDN, but in 2015, SDN seems to be well on its way. With the survey and the portfolio review, ONF members will be able to provide their input on: What is the ONF’s current place in the industry? Maybe another question is: Does it even need to exist in its current form?
Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Dan Conde notes that the ONF has broadened its horizons by being a sponsor of Open Source SDN (OSSDN) and through its recent work on intent-based networking, among other efforts. But Conde says there are other homes for SDN projects, including groups such as IOVisor and the OpenDaylight Project (both hosted by the Linux Foundation) and efforts associated with other projects like OpenStack. In addition to those options, there’s also input from academia and with vendors “who freely put things out on Github.”
“ONF has built a community around its initial association with OpenFlow, and it would benefit the community to collaborate on other projects related to open networking,” Conde writes in an email to SDxCentral. “But given that the world of open source is free to create its own communities, it’s inevitable that there will be different groups with different areas of focus. Ultimately the choice is up to the community itself — the stakeholders, the contributors, the users, governance groups, steering committees, etc. — that choose the direction. So it’s good that ONF sent out a survey.”
The ONF survey starts by asking members to rate how successful the organization has been in driving the promotion and adoption of SDN through open standards development. The survey’s final two questions ask what one thing (program, effort, focus) ONF should stop doing, or do more of.
The ONF conducts surveys occasionally to get member companies’ input on the work of the organization, but they aren’t done on a set schedule, according to ONF’s spokeswoman.