Software-defined networking (SDN) is clearly about to have a major impact on all things related to enterprise IT. Although the technology has shaped up to be a battle between Cisco and rival vendors backing open-source approaches to SDN, another open-source SDN camp has emerged that has the backing of a large number of telecommunications carriers and IT service providers.

The Open Networking Lab (ON.Lab) announced an open-source Open Network Operating System (ONOS) platform for SDN environments, which includes among its supporters AT&T, NTT Communications, Ciena, Fujitsu, Huawei, Intel, NEC, Infoblox, SRI, Internet2, CNIT and Create-Net.

ON.Lab Executive Director Guru Parulkar said that what distinguishes ONOS most is that it’s a clean implementation of an SDN platform that is devoid of any vendor biases toward network hardware infrastructure. As such, Parulkar said ON.Lab has focused on creating an SDN platform that is designed from the ground up to address multi-layer optimization and traffic engineering over packet optical cores, seamless peering of SDN islands with the Internet, SDN-based WAN control with segment routing, bandwidth calendaring, bandwidth and network provisioning, and a variety of configuration applications.

With SDN set to transform how IT services are delivered, Parulkar also notes that ONOS provides a platform for delivering and managing network function virtualization (NFV) modules as a service. Intended to consolidate the physical appliances that clutter today’s data center environments, NFV will offer opportunities for solution providers to create managed services around those technologies.

It will be interesting to watch to what degree an open-source platform backed by a significant segment of the carrier community can come to terms with other open-source SDN projects that are a little more focused on the needs of traditional data centers. Whatever the outcome, solution providers are more likely than not to wind up federating all the major SDN environments—at least until one dominant platform emerges.

The odds on that happening any time soon are, of course, slim to none.

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.