Big players align to push new networking standards

Dan Hatch News
22 Mar, 2011

Key networking industry operators have formed an alliance to promote their Software-Defined Networking idea

The world’s biggest players in cloud computing have formed an alliance to steer the development of new computer networking industry standards.

Lead by major industry players including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Deutsche Telekom and Verizon, the Open Networking Foundation, is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to “promoting a new approach to networking called Software-Defined Networking”.

The stated benefits are less congestion on more flexible and more secure networks and the potential to create priority flows for urgent data traffic.

SDN has been developed as part of a joint project between Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, and includes two basic components – a software interface called OpenFlow to control how packets are forwarded through network switches, and a set of global management interfaces upon which more advanced management tools can be built.

ONF’s first challenge will be to adopt and lead the OpenFlow standard’s development but it has got a head start in that all member companies will be licensed to use OpenFlow for free. That’s not just the big six, either. Another 17 other companies including major equipment vendors, networking and virtualisation software suppliers and chip technology providers – among them are IBM, Citrix, Dell, HP, Ericsson, NEC and VMware.

According the ONF’s website the SDN “gives owners and operators of networks better control over their networks, allowing them to optimise network behaviour to best serve their and their customers’ needs” thought relatively simple software changes.

ONF president, Google’s senior vice president of engineering Urs Hoelzle, said the alliance expected SDN to become more secure and more reliable as it allowed networks to evolve and improve more quickly than they currently can.

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