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!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags open sourceMicrosoftNetworkingNetwork managementdeutsche telekomFacebooknetwork securitymanagementYahoonetworksGoogle

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

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?