ONF adds new partners, edge and access cloud reference designs to its strategic plan

Three months after announcing a new strategic plan, the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is getting down to brass tacks with new members and reference designs.

The ONF announced today that Adtran, Dell EMC, Edgecore Networks and Juniper Networks have signed on to help further the ONF's supply chain through impending deployments of its reference designs. The ONF also unveiled four new specific reference designs that now serve as templates to create use cases for edge cloud implementations.

ONF's operator membership includes AT&T, China Unicom, Comcast, Google, Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica, NTT Group and Turk Telecom. Input from those operators led the ONF to announce its new strategic plan in March.

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"We're very excited about these four new partners that are stepping forward just in the last two months," said ONF's Timon Sloane, vice president of marketing and ecosystem, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "The industry is going through a fantastic and pretty massive transformation. All of this work is right at the forefront of that transformation."

Sloane said the price tag for the four vendors was $500,000 a year for each with a five-year commitment.

"As a formal partner, we'll have more established roles on the technology leadership teams," said Adtran's Robert Conger, CTO of Americas, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "The way they're structuring it, you really want to be a solution integrator partner and have your leading software developers on the design committees and everything else. We work together with the operator-led board to define the direction of these programs and help put them on a path to fulfill their deployments."

The reference designs that were announced today were SDN Enabled Broadband Access (SEBA), NFV Fabric, Unified, Programmable and Automated Network (UPAN) and Open Disaggregated Network. Each of the reference designs were backed by the ONF operator members that plan on deploying those designs in their production networks. For example, Google plans on deploying a component of UPAN this year.

Sloane said that drafts of all four of the reference designs would be completed next month. Sloane described the SEBA reference design as a lightweight version of R-CORD (Residential Central Office Re-architected as a Datacenter). SEBA supports access technologies, such as PON, G.Fast and DOCSIS, at the edge of service providers' networks. Conger said that while Adtran's technologies touched on all four of the reference designs, it was more in the camp of SEBA based on its experience with PON technologies.

Operators have been in the thick of R-CORD developments over the last three years, so among the four new reference designs SEBA is the farthest along.

"SEBA is R-CORD with a couple of knobs turned, but they are really important knobs," Sloane said. "When virtualization first started everything was OpenStack and VMs (virtual machines), but SEBA is actually Kubernetes' native. OpenStack is still an option, but Kubernetes and containerization have become more and more important."

Using Kubernetes, a SEBA deployment would cost less and require less physical space and power, according to Sloane.

The NFV Fabric reference design is for SDN-native spine and leaf data center fabrics that can be optimized for edge applications.

"NFV Fabric is kind of the spine-leaf data-centered fabric upon which CORD and SEBA are built, but there are operators that are consuming it by itself very explicitly," Sloane said.

UPAN is the next generation of SDN in a unified, programmable, automated network solution, according to Sloane. UPAN uses the P4 programming language to enable flexible data plane programmability and network-embedded VNF acceleration.

ODTN is an open, multivendor reference design for optical networks. ODTN was designed to put operators in control of projects and to negate vendor lock-in by allowing service providers to select best-of-breed components instead of buying an entire system from a single vendor.

While those four reference designs are on the front burner for ONF, long-term plans include work on mobile CORD and Multi-Access Edge Cloud open source platforms.

Assembling the components of the reference designs enables proof-of-concept trials and tests, which ONF calls "exemplar platforms." The exemplar platforms were designed to make it easy to download, modify, trial and deploy components of the reference designs in order to speed up adoption and deployment.

"This is really important for the industry," Sloane said. "We'll look back on this moment as being one that was really formidable in kind of driving out things to 2019 and beyond.