IEEE/SCU SoE May 1st Virtual Panel Session: Open Source vs Proprietary Software Running on Disaggregated Hardware

Complete Event Description at:

The video recording is now publicly available:


Backgrounder – Open Networking vs. Open Source Network Software

Open Networking was promised to be a new paradigm for the telecom, cloud and enterprise networking industries when it was introduced in 2011 by the Open Networking Foundation (ONF). This “new epoch” in networking was based on Software Defined Networking (SDN), which dictated a strict separation of the Control and Data planes with OpenFlow as the API/protocol between them. A SDN controller running on a compute server was responsible for hierarchical routing within a given physical network domain, with “packet forwarding engines” replacing hop by hop IP routers in the wide area network. Virtual networks via an overlay model were not permitted and were referred to as “SDN Washing” by Guru Parulkar, who ran the Open Networking Summit’s for many years.

Today, the term Open Networking encompasses three important vectors:

A) Beyond the disaggregation of hardware and software, it also includes: Open Source Software, Open API, Open Interoperability, Open Governance and Open collaboration across global organizations that focus on standards, specification and Open Source software.

B) Beyond the original Data/Control plane definition, today Open Networking covers entire software stack (Data plane, control plane, management, orchestration and applications).

C) Beyond just the Data Center use case, it currently covers all networking markets (Service Provider, Enterprise and Cloud) and also includes all aspects of architecture (from Core to Edge to Access – residential and enterprise).

Open Source Networking Software refers to any network related program whose source code is made available for use or modification by users or other developers. Unlike proprietary software, open source software is computer software that is developed as a public, open collaboration and made freely available to the public. There are several organizations that develop open source networking software, such as the Linux Foundation, ONF, OCP, and TIP.

Currently, it seems the most important open networking and open source network software projects are being developed in the Linux Foundation (LF) Networking activity. Now in its fifth year as an umbrella organization, LF Networking software and projects provide the foundations for network infrastructure and services across service providers, cloud providers, enterprises, vendors, and system integrators that enable rapid interoperability, deployment and adoption.

Event Description:

In this virtual panel session, our distinguished panelists will discuss the current state and future directions of open networking and open source network software. Most importantly, we will compare open source vs. proprietary software running on disaggregated hardware (white box compute servers and/or bare metal switches).

With so many consortiums producing so much open source code, the open source networking community is considered by many to be a trailblazer in terms of creating new features, architectures and functions. Others disagree, maintaining that only the large cloud service providers/hyperscalers (Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook) are using open source software, but it’s their own versions (e.g. Microsoft SONIC which they contributed to the OCP).

We will compare and contrast open source vs proprietary networking software running on disaggregated hardware and debate whether open networking has lived up to its potential.


  • Roy Chua, AvidThink
  • Arpit Joshipura, LF Networking
  • Run Almog, DriveNets

Moderator: Alan J Weissberger, IEEE Techblog, SCU SoE

Host: Prof. Ahmed Amer, SCU SoE

Co-Sponsor: Ashutosh Dutta, IEEE Future Networks

Co-Sponsor: IEEE Communications Society-SCV


  • Opening remarks by Moderator and IEEE Future Networks – 8 to 10 minutes
  • Panelist’s Position Presentations – 55 minutes
  • Pre-determined issues/questions for the 3 panelists to discuss and debate -30 minutes
  • Issues/questions that arise from the presentations/discussion-from Moderator & Host -8 to 10 minutes
  • Audience Q &A via ZOOM Chat box or Question box (TBD) -15 minutes
  • Wrap-up and Thanks (Moderator) – 2 minutes

Panelist Position Statements:

1. Roy will examine the open networking landscape, tracing its roots back to the emergence of Software Defined Networking (SDN) in 2011. He will offer some historical context while discussing the main achievements and challenges faced by open networking over the years, as well as the factors that contributed to these outcomes. Also covered will be the development of open networking and open-source networking, touching on essential topics such as white box switching, disaggregation, OpenFlow, P4, and the related Network Function Virtualization (NFV) movement.

Roy will also provide insight into the ongoing importance of open networking and open-source networking in a dynamic market shaped by 5G, distributed clouds and edge computing, private wireless, fiber build-outs, satellite launches, and subsea-cable installations. Finally, Roy will explore how open networking aims to address the rising demand for greater bandwidth, improved control, and strengthened security across various environments, including data centers, transport networks, mobile networks, campuses, branches, and homes.

2. Arpit will cover the state of open source networking software, specifications, and related standards. He will describe how far we have come in the last few years exemplified by a few success stories. While the emphasis will be on the Linux Foundation projects, relevant networking activity from other open source consortiums (e.g. ONS, OCP, TIP, and O-RAN) will also be noted. Key challenges for 2023 will be identified, including all the markets of telecom, cloud computing, and enterprise networking.

3. Run will provide an overview of Israel based DriveNets “network cloud” software and cover the path DriveNets took before deciding on a Distributed Disaggregated Chassis (DDC) architecture for its proprietary software. He will describe the reasoning behind the major turns DriveNets took during this long and winding road. It will be a real life example with an emphasis on what didn’t work as well as what did.






3 thoughts on “IEEE/SCU SoE May 1st Virtual Panel Session: Open Source vs Proprietary Software Running on Disaggregated Hardware

  1. Lots of good food for thought and background in the description. This looks like it will be another well-researched and comprehensive panel led by Alan.

  2. May 1st IEEE/SCU SoE Panel Discussion Questions:

    1. After a very promising start in 2011-2012, it seems the interest in open networking has decreased substantially in the last few years. Has open networking and the use of open source networking software lived up to its potential and promise or has it been a commercial failure? Open debate for all 3 panelists who can jump in and follow one another.

    2. The open networking movement started with ETSI NFV and ONF SDN in 2011-2012. How did those initiatives evolve and do they relate to open networking today? Arpit and Roy.

    3. Run, what are the trade-offs between using open source vs proprietary software over disaggregated hardware like white boxes and bare metal switches?

    4. Many say that the cloud service providers (CSPs) are the main users of open source networking software, but they modify it for their own special needs, e.g. Microsoft SONIC contributed to the OCP. Arpit and Roy, what’s your opinion on this and when might we see major deployments of open source network software from other CSPs and telcos?

    5. As expected, Open Networking and even proprietary software running on disaggregated hardware has not been deployed by enterprise network customers who’ve opted for SD-WAN/SASE single vendor proprietary solutions. The challenges of systems integration, troubleshooting problems, and general maintenance/network management seem overwhelming for enterprise IT departments. What’s your opinion on the enterprise networking market? Open debate for all 3 panelists who can jump in and follow one another.

    6. SD-WANs became a commercial success for enterprise networking without any standards or even a NNI to connect different proprietary SD-WANs. Gartner forecasts that by 2026, 70% of enterprises will have implemented SD-WANs, compared with approximately 45% in 2021. And by 2025, 50% of new SD-WAN purchases will be part of a single-vendor secure access service edge (SASE) offering. There is absolutely nothing “open” in SD-WANs/SASE!
    Is the popularity of SD-WANs/SASE the reason for the seemingly lack of interest in open networking today? Open debate for all 3 panelists who can jump in and follow one another.

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