Google and other titans form Open Networking Foundation

Group's 'Software-Defined Networking' approach aims to ease cloud-era network management and customization.

Google, Facebook and Microsoft are among the heavy hitters of the tech industry that have teamed up to support a new, cloud-focused initiative called Software-Defined Networking (SDN).

Along with Yahoo, Verizon, Deutsche Telekom and 17 others, the companies on Monday formed a group dubbed the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting SDN as a way to customize networks and speed network innovation.

"In the past two decades, enormous innovation has taken place on top of the Internet architecture," the group explained. "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."

A Boost for Security

Toward that end, SDN allows innovation to happen more quickly on all kinds of networks through relatively simple software changes, the group says. Data centers, wide area telecommunication networks, wireless networks, enterprise and even in-home networks can thus be controlled more precisely to serve user needs, such as by allowing some routers to be powered down during off-peak periods as a way to reduce data centers' energy usage, it suggested.

"Software-Defined Networking will allow networks to evolve and improve more quickly than they can today," said Urs Hoelzle, ONF's president and chairman of the board as well as senior vice president of engineering at Google. "Over time, we expect SDN will help networks become both more secure and more reliable."

Broadcom, Brocade, Ciena, Cisco, Citrix, Dell, Ericsson, Force10, HP, IBM, Juniper Networks, Marvell, NEC, Netgear, NTT, Riverbed Technology and VMware are among the group's other members.

'Promising for the Next Generation'

A six-year research collaboration between Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley led to the SDN approach. The OpenFlow interface is one key component, focused on controlling how packets are forwarded through network switches. Also included in SDN are a set of global management interfaces upon which more advanced management tools can be built.

The ONF's first task will be adopting and leading ongoing development on the OpenFlow standard and freely licensing it to all member companies. Next, the group will begin defining global management interfaces.

"Industrywide open application programming interface (API) efforts like ONF are promising for the next generation of network-based offerings," said Bruno Orth, senior vice president of network strategy and architecture at Deutsche Telekom. "SDN principles advance Deutsche Telekom's vision of 'connected life and work' and are expected to accelerate innovation for a seamless customer experience."

Customization on the Fly

Potential implications of the ONF's approach include the ability to establish on-demand "express lanes" for time-sensitive voice and data traffic, as well as for companies like Verizon or AT&T to combine multiple fiber optic backbones temporarily to handle short-term peaks in traffic, as the New York Times has already pointed out.

For data centers, SDN could also make it easier to redirect traffic around problematic hardware.

Bottom line? By employing open standards, this new initiative could make far-flung networks easier to control, customize and innovate upon, and that's bound to benefit everyone.

Follow Katherine Noyes on Twitter: @Noyesk.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags open sourcemanagementMicrosoftGoogleFacebookNetworkingnetwork securitynetworksNetwork managementYahoodeutsche telekom

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Katherine Noyes

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?