Open Networking Forum open for business with reference designs

The ONF releases three of its reference designs into the public domain. (Pixabay)

SAN JOSE, California—Open Networking Summit North America—In a relatively short amount of time, the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) has pivoted from a new concept to having product categories for its service provider membership. 

At last year's Open Networking Summit, the ONF announced a new strategic plan in order to move open source, next-generation SDN solutions into production mode at a faster clip. ONF's efforts reached fruition today with the news that three of its reference designs—SEBA, Trellis and ODTN—are now publicly available.

RELATED: ONF operators push reference designs out for membership review

In June, ONF took the wraps off of four new reference designs that served as templates to create use cases for SDN and edge cloud implementations. At its ONF Connect show in December, ONF announced that those reference designs were out for review by its membership.

ONF's operator membership, which is comprised of AT&T, China Telecom, China Unicom, Comcast, Deutsche Telekom, Google, NTT and Turk Telekom, conceived the reference designs. The reference designs are also backed by ONF's supply chain vendors.

The reference designs announced in June were SDN Enabled Broadband Access (SEBA), NFV Fabric, Unified, Programmable and Automated Network (UPAN) and ODTN (Open Disaggregated Transport Networking).

Each reference design is also supported by an Exemplar Platform that is designed to foster the build-out of the platforms. The Exemplar Platforms are pre-integrated and can be downloaded, trialed and deployed in production by the corresponding operators.

"So SEBA and Trellis are being released in the final form, and that's the form when there's an Exemplar Platform that's ready to consume it, or the operators have it live in their networks," said ONF's Timon Sloane, vice president of marketing and ecosystem, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "At that stage, the operators are committed to really rolling it out and getting more serious about it. Those are very significant.

"ODTN, the third, is being released as informational and the reasoning is that the Exemplar Platform is not far enough along for production deployments. It's always been earlier in its development, but the operators still want get it out there so the public can understand it and the community can understand the Exemplar Platform moving forward. The bar for releasing a final reference design is quite high, and we didn't feel like this one met the bar."

CORD Connection

In addition to SDN, ONF's first four reference designs are built within a Central Office Re-architected as a Datacenter (CORD) framework and the cloud.

The first four reference designs mainly cover access and edge networking including:

• SEBA describes how to assemble a collection of open source components to build a virtualized PON network to deliver residential broadband and mobile backhaul. The operators behind SEBA are AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Google Access, NTT, Turk Telecom while the supply chain partners include Adtran, Ciena, DellEMC, Edgecore, Juniper and Radisys.

"The reason we're so bullish on SEBA is because it's going to transform the way we connect to multiple dwelling units in our wireline network," said AT&T's Andre Fuetsch, president of AT&T Labs, AT&T's chief technology officer and the chair of ONF in an interview with FierceTelecom. "Basically SEBA is transforming the equipment by utilizing more commodity and white box hardware as well as taking advantage of the SEBA open source software that the ONF community is working on."

• The NFV Fabric-RD describes an SDN-native distributed spine and leaf fabric that's optimized for access and edge applications making use of the OpenFlow protocol and white box switches. The operator group for Trellis is Comcast, AT&T and Deutsche Telekom while the supply-chain partner is Infosys

 • ODTN-RD was designed to create open multi-vendor optical networks by combining open line systems with a mix of third-party DWDM optics, which brings disaggregation and open source to optical networking. ODTN-RD was designed to put operators in control of projects and to negate vendor lock-in by allowing service providers to select best-of-breed components instead of buying an entire system from a single vendor. The operator group for ODTN is comprised of NTT Communications and Telefonica while the supply chain partners are Ciena and Edgecore.

• UPAN-RD is the next generation of SDN in a unified, programmable, automated network solution. UPAN makes use of P4 and next-generation APIs P4Runtime, gNMI/OpenConfig and gNOI to enable flexible data plane programmability, full lifecycle management of white box fabric and network embedded VNF acceleration.

In February, ONF announced a fifth reference design, which is called Converged Multi-Access and Core (COMAC). The COMAC initiative was designed to unify the various access and core technologies over both mobile and broadband networks. COMAC is leveraging ONF's OMEC, which is a new open source project that also was announced February. Sloane said T-Mobile and Sprint plan to take OMEC into field trials this year.

On Tuesday, ONF announced that Tech Mahindra joined as a partner member. Late last month, ONF announced a collaboration between its ODTN project and the Telecom Infra Project's Open Optical and Packet Transport (OOPT) group.

"The optical groups have recognized that there are great synergies between the two," Sloane said. "TIP essentially focuses on open source hardware, and we focus on open source software, and that's a natural fit."