Open Networking Lab Open Sources SDN OS for Service Providers

By Paula Bernier November 04, 2014

A non-profit called the Open Networking Lab (ON.Lab) today announced plans to open source a software-defined networking operating system targeted at service providers like AT&T and NTT Communications. Called ONOS, the operating system will be available for download beginning Dec. 5.

The aim of ONOS is to enable service providers to be more agile so they can quickly introduce new services, leverage industry-standard hardware to lower costs, and maintain carrier-grade features, explains Guru Parulkar, ON.Lab’s executive director and board member. And this effort already has backing from ONOS founding members AT&T and NTT Communications, and Ciena, Fujitsu, Huawei, Intel, and NEC, among others.

"By now, SDN is deployed in data centers worldwide, based on proprietary software,” said Scott Shenker, professor of CS at UC Berkeley and faculty director of the Open Network Research Center. “The next frontier for SDN is service provider networks, where large network operators need to program their networks to create new, differentiated services. To enable this, we need a highly available, scalable control plane such as ONOS upon which new services can be instantiated and deployed.” 

ONOS is based on a distributed core and runs on multiple servers, so it’s highly available and scalable, explains former Cisco employee Ram Appalaraju, who serves as ON.Lab’s strategic advisor. To ensure ease of management it provides a unified view as a single instance, and provides southbound interfaces to enable users to configure, discover, observe, and program using the solution. In terms of throughput, ONOS can handle one million requests per second, and it provides 100-millisecond recovery.

ON.Lab has prototyped a handful of uses cases for ONOS. That includes SDN control of multilayer networks so service providers can move from their separate packet and optical networks, where over-provisioning is typically more than 400 percent, toward single networks, in which over-provisioning can be more in the 50 percent range, resulting in significant savings and the ability to offer bandwidth on demand to enable new services, Parulkar says. Another use case is seamless peering of SDN islands with the rest of the Internet with SDN-IP, so service providers can deploy SDN in a phased approach.

A third use case, which ON.Lab has been working on with the ONF, is SDN-based WAN control with segment routing, which enables service providers to retain the MPLS data plane, but use SDN for control in an effort to lessen network complexity. Yet another use case has to do with lowering VM complexity by employing service-level abstraction.

The ONOS news comes just a day after Midokura announced it is open sourcing its MidoNet virtual networking technology. Parulkar says that while Midokura is focused on the data center, ONOS at least initially is aimed at service provider implementations.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

Executive Editor, TMC

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