Twenty-three of the biggest names in networking and the Internet are launching a non-profit group that will seek to promote technology that enables faster upgrades to networks.

Called the Open Networking Foundation, the non-profit group will focus on an emerging technology called Software-Defined Networking. The purpose is to enable faster upgrades to ever-changing networks through software.

The six founding firms are: Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Verizon, and Yahoo!

Also participating are: Broadcom, Brocade, Ciena, Cisco, Citrix, Dell, Ericsson, Force10, HP, IBM, Juniper Networks, Marvell, NEC, Netgear, NTT, Riverbed Technology and VMware.

“In the past two decades, enormous innovation has taken place on top of the Internet architecture,” the group said in announcing its formation.

“E-mail, e-commerce, search, social networks, cloud computing, and the web as we know it are all good examples. While networking technologies have also evolved in this time, the ONF believes that more rapid innovation is needed. SDN fulfills this need by enabling innovation in all kinds of networks — including data centers, wide area telecommunication networks, wireless networks, enterprises and in homes — through relatively simple software changes. SDN thus gives owners and operators of networks better control over their networks, allowing them to optimize network behavior to best serve their and their customers’ needs. For instance, in data centers SDN can be used to reduce energy usage by allowing some routers to be powered down during off-peak periods.”

SDN is based on six years of research and development at Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley.

Researchers developed a software interface called OpenFlow for control of data packets across network switches and a standard called OpenFlow.

For more about OpenFlow, read here.

“Software-Defined Networking will allow networks to evolve and improve more quickly than they can today,” said Urs Hoelzle, senior vice president of engineering at Google. He will serve as president and chairman of the board for ONF. “Over time, we expect SDN will help networks become both more secure and more reliable.”

For more about ONF, read here.

For the ONF announcement, read here.

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