There’s a revolution occurring in networking right now. And it’s something that will profoundly affect how you communicate in the future.

Those who follow this blog regularly are familiar with it. It’s software-defined networking (SDN).

Imagine being able to add new network capabilities with a software upgrade overnight, much like you update your mobile device. Imagine being able to tailor your network exactly how you want and when you want, with the same ease as downloading and running a new app. It completely changes the game.

SDN principles aren’t necessarily new, but it’s only recently that these principles have been looked at from the standpoint of carrier-grade reliability and functionality. We’ve come a long way, but there’s more to be done. Research is still needed to understand how SDN can be extended to address the many different needs of carrier networks. This includes simplifying how they are built and operated, and transforming them from packet delivery infrastructures into agile service platforms. That’s why we are involved in research partnerships with UC Berkeley and other universities.

And for those concepts ready to be brought to market, visionary groups such as ON.Lab, a non-profit organization founded by SDN inventors and leaders from Stanford University and UC Berkeley, are working to foster an open source community to develop tools and platforms to realize the full potential of SDN. ON.Lab is developing the Open Network Operating System (ONOS), an SDN system being designed for service provider networks focused on delivering the performance, scale, high availability and core features that the larger vendor, carrier and research community needs. 

Last year, we committed $1 million per year for five years along with other resources to help ON.Lab pursue these principles and we’re pleased with the progress. Our fellow contributor Intel is announcing their involvement with similar support, and we applaud their collaboration.

Keep an eye on this space. There’s a lot of potential that’s coming to life.

John Donovan
John Donovan CEO – AT&T Communications