Intel boosts its open source, private networks brains trust

  • Intel has brought on board some significant open source networking talent
  • It has adopted the development team from the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) 
  • And it has acquired Ananki, the ONF’s private 5G spin-out

Intel has gained some significant open source networking expertise in recent weeks with the hiring of the Open Networking Foundation (ONF)’s development team, which has been working on multiple projects spanning the mobile, broadband and programmable networking sectors, and the acquisition of Ananki, the 5G private networking software development company spun out of the ONF in September 2021.

The adoption of the ONF R&D team (which was about 50 people strong, according to comments made previously by the ONF) came as part of a broader reorganization of the Foundation that has seen it morph into a “more classic open source organization” by putting its portfolio of open networking platforms, from public 5G (SD-Core, SD-RAN), private 5G networks (Aether), software-defined broadband (SEBA/VOLTHA) and P4 programmable networks (SD-Fabric, PINS), into the open source community. The Foundation is creating ‘governing boards’ to “guide the work” within the open source community (see this announcement for more details).

“Now that the ONF’s projects have reached maturity and market adoption, it is time for the projects to be released into the open source community. This has always been our vision,” noted the ONF’s Chair and AT&T Executive Vice President & Network CTO, Andre Fuetsch in this announcement. “We are pleased with the progress we have made toward more open, disaggregated and interoperable networks. With the development team joining Intel, we are optimistic that project contributions will continue to grow.” 

Nick McKeown, founding ONF board member and Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Network and Edge Group at Intel, added: “As a result of ONF’s shift in direction, we are pleased to welcome ONF’s development team to Intel. We look forward to our continued contributions to ONF projects, the ongoing success of ONF-developed platforms, and our active participation in the ONF community.”

One of those that has made the transition to Intel is Guru Parulkar, the now former ONF Executive Director and Board Member who noted in this LinkedIn post that he joined Intel’s Network and Edge team as VP of Software on 5 April. 

Parulkar was also CEO at Ananki, the ONF spin-out that had taken the software stacks developed by multiple ONF projects – including Aether (connected edge cloud), SD-RAN, SD-Fabric and SD-Core – and offered them on a SaaS (software-as-a-service) basis in an effort to make “private 5G as easy to consume as wifi for enterprises.” (See ONF spin-out Ananki offers to make private 5G as simple as wi-fi.)

Intel hasn’t made any public announcement about the acquisition and no financial details have been shared.

But it does signal Intel’s greater intent to increase its presence in private wireless networking and in offering its tech via a SaaS model, which of course makes sense in an increasingly distributed, cloud-oriented IT resource world: The rest of the (rapidly growing) private networking sector should take note. 

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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