Liaison statement
Liaison between ONF and IETF

State Posted
Posted Date 2012-07-03
From Group ONF
From Contact Dan Pitt
To Group IETF
To Contacts The IETF Chair
Joel M. Halpern
Response Contact Dan Pitt
Purpose For information
Attachments (None)
Liaisons referring to this one Relationship between ONF and the IETF
From: Dan Pitt, executive director, ONF
Subject: Liaison between ONF and IETF

ONF ( was established to promote Software Defined
Networking (SDN) by creating a forum for users and vendors to discuss all
aspects of SDNs, to create technical specifications and standards, and to
evangelize SDNs to the networking industry and its customers. ONF’s scope spans
data planes, control planes, and management planes, enabling programmability
and management of the SDN.

ONF's first task has been to standardize the OpenFlow protocol, the lowest
level building block upon which SDN networks can be built. OpenFlow conveys
flow-based forwarding information from a logical entity called a controller (or
network operating system), which embodies the control-plane intelligence, to
the network switches, which actually forward the packets based on directions
received from the controller. The OpenFlow protocol therefore represents the
controller’s southbound interface, and a protocol is indeed necessary because
the switches and controller are assumed to be physically and geographically

The controller’s conceptual northbound interface permits other software
entities representing such factors as policy, security, traffic engineering,
and energy management to influence the controller’s determination of flow
paths. ONF has not yet standardized the controller’s northbound interface, or
determined its nature, and so it is too early to standardize orchestration of
SDNs controlled via ONF standards.

We in ONF are very interested to discuss potential SDN use cases developed by
the IETF with a view to demonstrating how these can be expressed with ONF
constructs, possibly as direct functions of the controller. ONF is further
interested in the IETF’s orchestration of existing, stable non-SDN data and
control planes that already have stable northbound interfaces (e.g., SNMP MIB,

We recommend that ONF and IETF work together on SDN specifications, under the
ONF framework of chartered ONF Working Groups (via mailing lists, wikis, and
conference calls), ONF discussion groups (via mailing lists, wikis, and
conference calls), and the ONF Technical Advisory Group (for oversight).

ONF specifications will use and interact with IETF standards, such as Netconf
and BFD. As ONF develops SDN specifications, ONF will work with IETF to bring
requests for additions and changes to existing IETF specifications, and for new
code points, as the need arises.

ONF further believes there would be considerable benefit if code points defined
in ONF specifications are assigned from registries managed by the IANA
(Internet Assigned Numbers Authority). We would like to discuss with you the
best way to achieve this.

Finally, ONF is interested in discussing cross-publishing future specifications
at the IETF, and would welcome a discussion on how best to accomplish this as

Dan Pitt
Executive Director
Open Networking Foundation
Palo Alto, California
m. 617-803-5938