ON.Lab aims to disrupt with SDN Open Source Network Operating System

There's a contingent of engineers who really want to see software defined networking (SDN) succeed for operators, and they're doing their part to make that happen by offering up the SDN Open Network Operating System (ONOS).

The Open Networking Lab, or ON.Lab, is launching ONOS on behalf of the ONOS community of partners, contributors and end-users. The open source software will be released and available for download on Dec. 5.

Calling it a disruptive platform, the community members behind it say it delivers a highly available, scalable SDN control plane featuring northbound and southbound open APIs and paradigms for a diversity of management, control and service applications across mission-critical networks.

Initially targeted at service providers, the community's goal is to extend the platform for cloud service providers, enterprises and mainstream deployments, according to a press release. Founding members that are funding and contributing to the ONOS initiative include AT&T (NYSE: T), NTT Communications, Ciena, Fujitsu, Huawei, Intel and NEC. Members that are collaborating and contributing to ONUS include Infoblox, SRI, Internet2, CNIT and Create-Net.

"By now, SDN is deployed in data centers worldwide, based on proprietary software," said Scott Shenker, professor of computer science at the University of California at Berkeley and faculty director of the Open Network Research Center, in the release. "The next frontier for SDN is service provider networks, where large network operators need to program their networks to create new, differentiated services. To enable this, we need a highly available, scalable control plane such as ONOS upon which new services can be instantiated and deployed."

AT&T addresses SDN through its User-Defined Network Cloud initiative. "Software-defined networking can radically reshape the wide area network," said John Donovan, senior executive vice president, AT&T Technology & Operations, in the press release. "The introduction of ONOS provides another open source SDN option designed for service provider networks with the potential to deliver the performance, scale, availability and core features that we value."

Why another open source initiative? ON.Lab leaders say there are several reasons. One is the platform itself; it brings a lot of value to service providers. The second is the people who are involved--some 20 engineers worked on creating this operating system, which has the full support of early pioneers in the SDN movement. The third is the participation of service providers who were invited to be part of the process from the very beginning.

Guru Parulkar, executive director of ON.Lab, said service providers themselves have been very outspoken about the fact that they've been using proprietary solutions for too long, which leads to high cap ex. "It is very difficult for them to be programmable, and as a result, service providers are stuck," he told FierceWirelessTech.

ONOS is created with the objective of bringing a solid open source SDN platform to meet the needs of service providers and enterprises, according to Parulkar. Initial use cases for ONOS focus on new, innovative services and applications for service provider and WAN networks. Examples include multi-layer optimization and traffic engineering over packet optical core; seamless peering of SDN islands with the Internet; SDN-based WAN control with segment routing; bandwidth calendaring; bandwidth and network provisioning; and a variety of configuration applications.

"ONOS is built from scratch, from the ground-up, to be highly available, fast and extensible. It can be used to control existing equipment or new white boxes, allowing service providers to gain more control of their networks and reduce costs," said Nick McKeown, professor of computer science and electrical engineering at Stanford and faculty director of the Open Network Research Center, in the press release.

It's important to note that ONOS also allows providers to gradually migrate their existing networks to SDN without requiring instant forklift upgrades. The idea is that by capitalizing on white box switches to reduce costs and managing them via SDN, service providers will have the ability to allocate higher budgets to applications and business services while reducing the spend on operations and maintenance.

ON.Lab is a non-profit organization founded by SDN inventors and leaders from Stanford University and UC Berkeley to foster an open source community for developing tools and platforms based on SDN.

For more:
- see this press release

Related articles:
AT&T, Sprint, Ericsson, Cisco, Nokia and more join forces for open-source NFV effort
Infonetics Research: New revenue is leading driver for SDN and NFV
AT&T adds Alcatel-Lucent, Fujitsu to list of vendors backing its SDN, NFV efforts
AT&T's Kris Rinne explains how 'User-Defined Network Cloud' will change carrier's network architecture

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