Computing Community Consortium Blog

The goal of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is to catalyze the computing research community to debate longer range, more audacious research challenges; to build consensus around research visions; to evolve the most promising visions toward clearly defined initiatives; and to work with the funding organizations to move challenges and visions toward funding initiatives. The purpose of this blog is to provide a more immediate, online mechanism for dissemination of visioning concepts and community discussion/debate about them.

Open Networking Foundation Announced

March 22nd, 2011 / in Research News / by Erwin Gianchandani

Open Networking Foundation ( two dozen IT companies are announcing today a new nonprofit organization called the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), dedicated to promoting the development and use of Software-Defined Networking (SDN) technologies like OpenFlow. Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Verizon, and Yahoo! are founding partners, and another 17 companies — including major equipment vendors, networking and virtualization software suppliers, and chip technology providers — are members.

From the official press release:

In the past two decades, enormous innovation has taken place on top of the Internet architecture. Email, e-commerce, search, social networks, cloud computing, and the web as we know it are all good examples. While networking technologies have also evolved in this time, the ONF believes that more rapid innovation is needed. SDN fulfills this need by enabling innovation in all kinds of networks — including data centers, wide area telecommunication networks, wireless networks, enterprises and in homes — through relatively simple software changes. SDN thus gives owners and operators of networks better control over their networks, allowing them to optimize network behavior to best serve their and their customers’ needs. For instance, in data centers SDN can be used to reduce energy usage by allowing some routers to be powered down during off-peak periods.


The SDN approach arose out of a six-year research collaboration between Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley. Essential to SDN are two basic components: a software interface (called OpenFlow) for controlling how packets are forwarded through network switches, and a set of global management interfaces upon which more advanced management tools can be built. The first task of ONF will be to adopt and then lead the ongoing development of the OpenFlow standard and encourage its adoption by freely licensing it to all member companies. ONF will then begin the process of defining global management interfaces.

The ONF announcement is featured in today’s New York Times.  Some relevant excerpts:

…The group, to be called the Open Networking Foundation, hopes to help standardize a set of technologies pioneered at Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley, and meant to make small and large networks programmable in much the same way that individual computers are.


The changes, if widely adopted, would have implications for global telecommunications networks and large corporate data centers, but also for small household networks. The benefits, proponents say, would be more flexible and secure networks that are less likely to suffer from congestion. Someday, they say, networks might even be less expensive to build and operate…


The foundation’s organizers also say the new technologies will offer ways to improve computer security and could possibly enhance individual privacy within the e-commerce and social networking markets. Those markets are the fastest-growing uses for computing and network resources…


Nick McKeown of Stanford has helped build some of the underpinnings of the technology (image courtesy The New York Times).“This answers a question that the entire industry has had, and that is how do you provide owners and operators of large networks with the flexibility of control that they want in a standardized fashion,” said Nick McKeown, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Stanford, where his and colleagues’ work forms part of the technical underpinnings, called OpenFlow…


The effort is a departure from the traditional way the Internet works…


The intelligence in the original Internet was meant to reside largely at the end points of the network — the computers — while the specialized routing computers were relatively dumb post offices of various size, mainly confined to reading addresses and transferring packets of data to adjacent systems…


[The technology] will make it possible, for example, for managers of large networks to program their network to prioritize certain types of data, perhaps to ensure quality of service or to add security to certain portions of a network.


The designers argue that because OpenFlow should open up hardware and software systems that control the flow of Internet data packets, systems that have been closed and proprietary, it will cause a new round of innovation focused principally upon the vast computing systems known as cloud computers.


[Carnegie Mellon computer scientist David Farber] noted that there have been other research projects aimed at redesigning the Internet. For example, the National Science Foundation, in addition to supporting the OpenFlow initiative, has financed the Global Environment for Network Innovations, or GENI. OpenFlow appears to have generated broad industry support, he said, but it must still prove itself in the market…

Read more in the Times’ article here.

(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)

Open Networking Foundation Announced

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