Members Review ONF Next-Gen Networking Reference Designs

The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) this week released for membership review the draft versions of reference designs being developed to advance open source solutions based on next-gen techniques like software-defined networking (SDN).

The move marks a change in direction for the group, which switched course earlier this year in response to some members. The ONF is a non-profit, operator-led consortium that seeks to drive the transformation of network infrastructure and carrier business models.

In March ONF operators AT&T, China Unicom, Comcast, Google, Deutsche Telekom, NTT Group, Telefonica and Turk Telekom jointly developed and unanimously approved the change in direction.

At the time, they said: "Operators have recognized a lack of clarity on common platforms. Unnecessary customization drives variants and unique requirements into the ecosystem, which in turn drives complexity and cost. There is a need to help identify common platforms that will be deployed across multiple operators and to help the industry rally and benefit from shared investment."

Part of the effort to further that aim involves the use of reference designs. The reference design site says: "Reference Designs (RDs) represent a particular assembly of components that are required to build a deployable platform. They are 'blueprints' developed by ONF’s Operator members to address specific use cases for the emerging edge cloud."

The first four reference designs released for membership review -- said to address some of the most dynamic areas of the access and edge networking space-- include:

  • Virtualized Broadband: "The SDN Enabled Broadband Access Reference Design (SEBA-RD) describes how to assemble a collection of open source components to build a virtualized PON network to deliver residential broadband and mobile backhaul."
  • NFV Fabric: "The NFV Fabric-RD describes an SDN-native distributed spine-leaf fabric optimized for access and edge applications making use of the OpenFlow protocol and white box switches."
  • Next-Generation SDN: "The Unified, Programmable & Automated Network (UPAN-RD) reference design makes use of P4 and next-generation APIs P4Runtime, gNMI/OpenConfig, and gNOI to enable flexible data plane programmability, full lifecycle management of white box fabric and network embedded VNF acceleration."
  • Virtualized Optical Transport: "Open Disaggregated Transport Network (ODTN-RD), for open multi-vendor optical networks combining open line systems with a mix of third-party DWDM optics, for the first time bringing disaggregation and open source to optical networking."

After a member review period, they will be made available to the public, according to ONF, which added that operators are planning to base procurement on the reference designs.

The reference designs were released by mostly the same group of operators who prompted the change in direction in March, now presented as: AT&T, China Unicom, China Telecom, Comcast, Deutsche Telekom, Google, NTT and Turk Telekom.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.


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