Linux Foundation introduces the LF Networking Fund, harmonizes​ open source, open standards

The Linux Foundation is taking the first step to bring some commonality across its myriad network efforts by creating the LF Networking Fund (LFN).

By creating a combined administrative structure, Linux Foundation said LFN will provide a platform for cross-project collaboration. 

LFN will form the foundation for collaboration across the network stack: the data plane into the control plane, to orchestration, automation and testing.

RELATED: Verizon joins the Linux Foundation's ONAP project

Nine of the ​top 10 open source networking projects have agreed to participate in LFN. The six founding projects of LFN are, OpenDaylight, ONAP, OPNFV, PDNA and SNAS. 

Arpit Joshipura, general manager of networking and orchestration for The Linux Foundation, told FierceTelecom that members of the associated projects could have more communications between one another.

Linux Foundation
Arpit Joshipura

“Each of the groups like OpenDaylight and OPNFV had mostly single use cases and members had to join these projects to participate individually or separately,” Joshipura said. “What members wanted was to have architecture discussions across projects and harmonize events so they could have development summits together.”

Joshipura added that “we will continue moving projects as the solution stack evolves.”

A new structure

With the LFN, The Linux Foundation hopes to achieve three main goals: increased cross-project synergies, faster path to adoption and harmonized communities through events like Open Networking Summit.

Under the LFN structure, there will be an LF board and an Umbrella Governing Board.

These boards will communicate with the Technology Advisory Council and the Marketing Advisory Council, which cuts across these projects.

Linux Foundation

Each technical project has its own Technical Charter Document, which lays out various elements such as the project scope, IP policy/licensing and the Technical Steering Committee (TSC) election process.

“The TSCs in these projects will stay, but anytime you have to go across, we now have an official platform for collaboration within the projects,” Joshipura said.

Driving commonality

By bringing projects under a common platform, developers and other members of the service provider community will now be able to more rapidly create new virtual network functions (VNFs) and lab testing.

Instead of having all projects figure out a way to test and on-board VNFs, LFN allows any group to bring on a VNF.

“You don’t want each project to have to figure out how to on board a VNF because it’s now one consistent method,” Joshipura said.

The LFN will also enable any group to conduct common lab testing on how to upstream open stack initiatives.

“If OPNFV wants to test ONAP, then ONAP should not test OPNFV and do it like two times,” Joshipura said. “If someone wants to do Kubernetes integration, there will be a way to do it once.”  

While Linux Foundation is changing the way members can interact with current and new projects, the organization is maintaining the governing process, technical independence and roadmap releases.

This will allow new and existing groups and members that join The Linux Foundation to maintain consistency in how they interact and develop new platforms.

“It’s the best of both worlds,” Joshipura said. “Projects by themselves are collaborative communities and this will drive even more collaboration.”

This new structure will also make the way new companies and organizations join easier.

Instead of having to become a member of ONAP or Open Daylight separately, a new member could just join once.

“From a member perspective, everybody had to join every project,” Joshipura said. “A member would join as a Platinum member on ONAP or OPNFV, but now it’s a single membership for all these six projects and you can participate in any or as many as you want.”

Already, the existing Platinum founding and new members of The Linux Foundation projects have embraced the new platform.

Linux Foundation also added Gold and Silver member designations to the LFN.  

Joshipura said he expects more organizations to join over time. Microsoft recently joined, for example.