Open Networking Foundations

Opportunity

Launched in 2011 by Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Verizon, and Yahoo!, the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is a nonprofit organization with more than 140 members. The organization’s mission is to accelerate the commercialization and adoption of Software Defined Networking (SDN) with a goal of creating a vibrant market of products, services, applications, customers and users. ONF is the steward of the OpenFlow standard and also maintains an active open source software development community, OpenSourceSDN.org.

As a young organization with the first and only standard for SDN, ONF sought to educate the industry on the need for SDN and the benefits of breaking away from hardware-based networks. The challenge in the first year of ONF’s incorporation was two-fold. First, the networking industry had been without
major innovation for nearly three decades and many end-users had made significant investments in traditional networking hardware. Second, industry end users were reluctant to make a change to something that was perceived as an “academic” exercise that had not yet been proven within an enterprise or operator environment.

Our team was selected to represent ONF.

Solution

The program we developed on behalf of ONF removed the “academic” one from their outbound communications, using the voice of member companies to tell the story of why open SDN would succeed, gathering case studies from these member companies to serve as proof points. We launched ONF’s first OpenFlow compliance program, promoting open standards and showing the breadth of companies looking to comply with these standards. At the same time, we continuously differentiated ONF from other industry organizations as groups like IEEE and OpenDaylight joined in the SDN conversation. This was done by maintaining a strong focus on the end-user driven activities, such as social media programming and a strong speakers’ bureau presence. These proved to be the most direct routes to end users – helping to take open SDN from academic theory to game changing approach. Additional activities that were driven primarily by the organization, such as media relations, email marketing and reporting on communications successes to member companies, also aided in increasing awareness and member growth.

As part of thought leadership efforts, we also elevated the profile of the Open Networking Summit (ONS), a conference begun by Stanford University and based on the OpenFlow standard. The inaugural ONS event was attended by approximately 250 technical networking professionals. By the third year, the event was attended by more than 1,500 industry representatives.

Results
  • Grew membership from 15 founding members to more than 160 members in fouryears
  • Increased number of unpaid speaking opportunities from 12 in the organization’s first year to
  • more than 100, including 12 keynotes
  • Increased coverage and social engagement year-over-year
  • Established Executive Director Dan Pitt as a thought leader in open SDN
  • Credited by membership with increasing share of voice and industry understanding of both open SDN and OpenFlow