SDN Standards Activities in ITU-T and other SDOs

The Joint Coordination Activity on Software-Defined Networking (JCA-SDN), was approved by ITU-T TSAG in June 2013. Mr. Takashi Egawa (NEC, Japan) was appointed as the Chairman and Ms Ying Cheng (China Unicom, China) as the vice chair of JCA-SDN, which will report its progress to TSAG.

From the ITU-T’s SDN Portal:

SDN is considered a major shift in networking technology which will give network operators the ability to establish and manage new virtualized resources and networks without deploying new hardware technologies. ICT market players see SDN and network virtualization as critical to countering the increases in network complexity, management and operational costs traditionally associated with the introduction of new services or technologies. SDN proposes to decouple the control and data planes by way of a centralized, programmable control-plane and data-plane abstraction. This abstraction will usher in greater speed and flexibility in routing instructions and the security and energy management of network equipment such as routers and switches. ​

Terms of Reference for the Joint Coordination Activity on Software-Defined Networking (JCA-SDN) is at:

The JCA-SDN found many SDN-related activities are ongoing in various Study Groups (SGs) of ITU-T and in other Standard Development Organizations (SDOs).

In ITU-T, items shown below are under study, listed by Study Group:

l  ITU-T Study Group 13 (lead SG of SDN)


From the latest draft of the ITU-T SDN Architecture spec:

“The functional architecture of SDN is based on [ITU-T Y.3300] which provides the framework of SDN. The key properties of the framework are logically centralized network control which allows for controlling and managing network resources by software, support for network virtualization, and network customization, for efficient and effective network deployments and operations.

The requirements for SDN include: separation of SDN control from the network resources, programmability of network resources; abstraction of network resources, by means of standard information and data models and support for orchestration of network resources and SDN applications.”

Here’s the Mother of all cop-out disclaimers:

“The ITU-T framework description is a high level one which enables inclusion of many present and future SDN approaches [b-ETSI NFV][b-IETF I2RS][b-IETF RFC3746][b-ONF][b-OpenDayLight] which share the same objectives to provide the programmability of network resources.”

Note that there is no mention of the network virtualization/overlay model, favored by VMWare, Nuage Networks, and many other vendors.


l       ITU-T Study Group 5

They informed JCA-SDN that their deliverables for energy saving and energy efficiency topics can be considered of interest for SDN.

l        ITU-T Study Group 11

  • Q.3315 (Signalling requirements for flexible network service combination on Broadband Network Gateway)
  • Q.SBAN (Scenarios and signaling requirements for software-defined BAN (SBAN))
  • Q.Supplement-67 (Framework of signaling for SDN)
  • Q.IPv6UIP (Scenarios and signaling requirements of unified intelligent programmable interface for IPv6)

l          ITU-T Study Group 15

  • G.asdtn (Architecture for SDN control of Transport Networks)
  • G.cca (Common Control Aspects)
  • G.gim (“Generic Information Model”)


l        ITU-T Study Group 16

  • H.Sup.OpenFlow (Protocol evaluation – OpenFlow versus H.248)
  • H.VCDN-RA (Functional requirements and architecture model for virtual content delivery network)


l          ITU-T Study Group 17

  • X.sdnsec-1 (Security services using the software defined network)
  • X.sdnsec-2 (Security requirements and reference architecture for Software-Defined Networking)

Other SDN Standards Activity:

Regarding other standards bodies outside of ITU-T, JCA-SDN learned that there are SDN standardization activities in: ATIS, Broadband Forum (BBF), China Communications Standards Association (CCSA), Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), Internet Research Task Force (IRTF), and Open Networking Foundation (ONF).  

—>Why is ONF listed last?

SDN-related activities can also be found in 3GPP, ETSI ISG Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and IEEE P1903 (Next Generation Service Overlay Network (NGSON)).

JCA-SDN also learned that Open Source Software (OSS) projects are becoming important players in standardization ecosystem by providing reference implementations, providing feedbacks to specifications, demonstrate proof of concept, and others. In SDN arena OpenDaylight is playing an important role, and OpenStack and OPNFV in SDN-related area.

The details of each activity is shown in the latest version of JCA-SDN D.1 (SDN standards roadmap):