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Cisco, Juniper among new software-defined networking research center's founders

Cisco, Juniper, HP and nine other technology companies have joined forces with two leading universities to form a research center focused on software-defined networking (SDN).

The announcement of the Open Networking Research Center (ONRC) comes a week before the Open Networking Summit, which focuses on OpenFlow and SDN, will be held in Santa Clara (Network World's Colin Neagle will be reporting live from the event next week).

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In addition to the vendors mentioned above, other founding members of the ONRC are CableLabs, Ericsson, Google, Huawei, Intel, NEC, NTT Docomo, Texas Instruments and VMware.

SDN movers and shakers Nick McKeown of Stanford University and Scott Shenker of UC Berkeley are the ONRC's faculty directors. The open source OpenFlow project stems from a years-long research collaboration between Stanford and UC Berkeley.

"For two decades, networking has remained essentially stagnant and networks are far too expensive, complex, and difficult to manage," said Shenker in a statement. "This is about to change thanks to SDN, which will enable network engineers to innovate freely and make networks simpler and less expensive while becoming vastly more capable."

The ONRC, which is developing "a comprehensive intellectual framework" for software-defined networking, will consist of research groups at Stanford and UC Berkeley as well as an independent, nonprofit Open Networking Laboratory led by Stanford's Guru Parulkar that will develop an open-source SDN infrastructure.

As Network World's Jim Duffy has written, "SDNs are said to be a way to abstract the physical network from the logic with which to operate it, and to enable easier modification or feature extension. OpenFlow is supported by many in the industry as an API and protocol to enable SDNs."

While some vendors such as Brocade and NEC have been upfront about their SDN plans, others like Cisco have been relatively tight-lipped. The general thinking goes that SDNs could threaten legacy equipment -- and profit margins -- for some established players. However, word has leaked out recently that Cisco is incubating an SDN-focused startup called Insieme. 

The new Open Networking Research Center is the latest effort by SDN supporters to join together. Last year, a group called the Open Networking Foundation formed to standardize OpenFlow and speed delivery of SDN products to market. Early members included Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Verizon and Yahoo.

Bob Brown tracks network research in his Alpha Doggs blog and Facebook page, as well on Twitter and Google +.

Read more about lan and wan in Network World's LAN & WAN section.


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