ONF shines SD-Core on private 5G use cases

The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) announced the launch of the SD-Core project, which is focused on building an open source 4G/5G disaggregated mobile core for private 5G and enterprise use cases.

SD-Core is really designed with a notion of creating a platform for connectivity as a service, making it possible to deploy connectivity from the cloud in a seamless way, according to Timon Sloane, vice president of standards and membership at ONF.

“It’s a multi-core solution,” supporting 4G and 5G, he told Fierce, adding that within 5G, both non-standalone (NSA) and standalone (SA) versions are supported.

Importantly, it includes multiple User Plane Functions (UPFs), which translate traffic to being IP traffic, he said.

According to ONF, the UPF must be placed in the proximity of edge applications to meet performance requirements of emerging use cases like augmented reality and synchronized industrial robots. They can be deployed in conjunction with one another.

The arrival of Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum in the U.S. within the past year has made a world of difference, as it’s giving enterprises and basically non-traditional players the chance to build their own private networks, without relying on licensed wireless operators to do it for them. They can still turn to the operators, but CBRS provides an avenue to call their own.

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Part of what’s so exciting is entities other than operators are free to build their own solutions, Sloane said. “I think you’re going to see a ton of activity in this space over the next 12 months,” he added, with various solution providers as part of the mix.

Separately, ONF announced the open source SD-Fabric project, which it describes as “a complete P4 programmable hybrid cloud network fabric” giving programmers the power to push customized packet processing deep into networking elements.

“It really changes the network from being this kind of black box that just moves packets between servers to becoming a cloud-managed entity” so that developers can use it as a tool to implement functionality, Sloane said. “We think it’s exactly the kind of capabilities and functionality that’s needed for some of these emerging apps.”

Pronto is a $30 million DARPA project where SD-Fabric is being used, as well as SD-Core. ONF’s Aether, an open source private 4G/5G Connected-Edge-Cloud as a Service platform, is being used as the foundation for the Pronto research, where ONF is working jointly with Stanford University, Cornell University and Princeton University.