While taking a software based approach to networking is the right step in the evolution of networks, it is important to keep in mind that network hardware is still responsible for moving the packets around. Therefore, interoperability of networking software and networking hardware is very critical for a reliable Software Defined Network. This means that industry participants must work together to define robust standards that not only bring a much-needed uniformity in capability but also promote faster adoption of the next generation networking architecture. Industry consortiums such as ONF have taken a lead in SDN related technologies and standards. ONF is a great example where telecom service providers and Web 2.0 companies have come together to define the SDN reference architecture and the associated standards.
The premise of decoupling control plane from forwarding plane has important implications for ISV and Systems integrators. The new trend of white box networking allows OEMs to manufacture networking devices using off the shelf hardware components and open-source software components to provide cheaper networking devices with basic capabilities. ISV and Systems integrators can design solutions using the white box networking vendors and augmenting it with powerful SDN controllers to create a viable alternative to the solutions offered by traditional networking vendors. Industry consortiums can help connect these different hardware and software vendors and create an environment for innovation.
Among consortiums, Linux Foundation alone is spearheading ODL, OVS, CORD and ONOS projects that involve with various aspects of SDN architecture.