The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is a user-driven non-profit organization focused on promoting the adoption of software-defined networking (SDN) through open standards development. It was founded by Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Verizon, and Yahoo! in 2011.
Its flagship contribution has been OpenFlow, widely considered the first SDN standard. It which enables the control plane (SDN Controller) to interact with the forwarding plane (switch/router/chip set/etc.) in an SDN environment.
History of the Open Networking Foundation and OpenFlow
OpenFlow was introduced in 2008 to provide an alternative to proprietary solutions that limit flexibility and create vendor lock-in. The specification was designed to allow researchers to run experiments on heterogeneous switches and routers in a uniform way, without requiring vendors to expose the internal workings of their products or requiring researchers to write vendor-speciﬁc control software. With OpenFlow, the SDN Controller can push down changes to the forwarding devices to make the overall network more programmable and responsive to business demands.
ONF maintains several working groups currently looking at evolving the OpenFlow standard to address the needs of new use cases and production deployments. Current active working groups include:
- Architecture and Framework
- Forwarding Abstraction
- Northbound Interfaces
- Discussion Groups
- Configuration and Management
- Market Education
- Optical Transport
- Wireless & Mobile
- Testing and Interoperability
Open Networking Foundation also receives high-level guidance from its Technical Advisory Group (TAG) and Chipmakers’ Advisory Board (CAB). TAG provides multi-vendor perspectives and industry-specific knowledge regarding technical issues related to next-generation software-defined networks. CAB serves as a forum for chipmakers to advise ONF on the best ways to promote the hardware ecosystem and supply chain.
There are currently more than 125 companies who are members of Open Networking Foundation, representing IT, cloud, telecom service providers, network equipment vendors, and silicon providers. It continues to offer interoperable solutions primarily driven by OpenFlow and the OpenFlow Configuration and Management Protocol Standard. The ONF Testing and Interoperability working group looks to speed up the development and adoption of OpenFlow. It is actively creating conformance tests, but the details have yet to be released to the broader public.