SAN JOSE, Calif. — More than 60 companies and 260 people are taking part in an effort to fine tune software-defined networking for mobile networks. The group aims to extend the OpenFlow protocol for use in carrier backhaul and core networks, as well as wireless campus nets for businesses.
"We will be complementary with work at the IEEE and 3GPP," Serge Manning, chairman of the new wireless and mobile working group at the Open Networking Foundation (which manages the OpenFlow protocol) told us. "We want to improve performance but not mess up any of the existing interfaces."
Discussions that started more than a year ago defined 17 use cases for OpenFlow. The group, which initially included China Mobile, Huawei Orange, Telefonica, and Goldman Sachs, narrowed down to three the targets in its charter. Other members now include Cisco Systems, NEC, Nokia Solutions and Networks, and ZTE.
Within a year, the group aims to define extensions to OpenFlow for mobile backhaul, core, and enterprise networks; draft best-practices for applying them; and show working prototypes, said Manning, a senior manager for corporate standards at Huawei. For example, it hopes to enable ways for OpenFlow to adjust millimeter wave radios dynamically to improve performance or power efficiency in backhaul nets. In cellular core nets, it plans to ease the job of separating data and control traffic. It also aims to let businesses manage functions such as authentication across wired and wireless nets in a more central way.
In a sign of carriers' interest in software-defined networking, John Donovan, a lead operations executive at AT&T, will be one of the keynoters at the Open Networking Summit in March. AT&T announced a procurement strategy last summer based in part on adopting SDN techniques.
"They did not say anything specific about OpenFlow, but it's clear they are going to buy stuff in a whole new way based on the kinds of things we are doing," said Dan Pitt, executive director of the Open Networking Foundation.
— Rick Merritt, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, EE Times