Putting a Stake in the Ground with ONUG

By Ernest Lefner

AT&T distributed 75 press releases in September and I admit I don’t normally pay attention to these announcements, but there was one that caught my eye last week: “AT&T Launches Supplier Domain 2.0 — Next-Generation Supplier Program Facilitates AT&T’s Rapid Transformation to an Open, Cloud-based Network; New Vendor Relationships to be Added.” The press release addressed AT&T’s plans to simplify and scale its network by:

  • Separating hardware and software functionality;
  • Separating network control plane and forwarding planes; and
  • Improving management of functionality in the software layer

AT&T announced that it is focusing on a capital-efficient, programmable network, reducing its time to market, enabling new growth opportunities leveraging SDN and NFV, and this transition would require “some new providers with different skills and capabilities.” What AT&T was really doing was putting a stake in the ground that they have a vision for the future and they will vote with their dollars to reward vendors who deliver on that vision.

As the co-founder and vice-chairman of The Open Networking User Group (ONUG) I am ecstatic to see IT business leaders putting it out there.   ONUG is led by a Board of Directors composed of IT leaders from Bank of America, Citigroup, Fidelity Investments, GAP Inc., JPMorgan Chase, UBS, and Nick Lippis of the Lippis Report. We provide a platform for IT business leaders to take control of their IT architecture to influence vendor product development investments, standards and open source initiatives through prioritized use cases, product test methodology, and benchmarks.

I want to extend a personal invitation to AT&T and all IT executives  who are reviewing, planning, piloting or deploying open networking solutions to join me at our second meeting, ONUG Fall 2013 to be held October 29-30, 2013 in New York City, hosted by JPMorgan Chase.

At ONUG we will share real-word deployments and ONUG community-delivered use cases in an intimate, highly interactive environment. Our ONUG Academy on October 29 is open to all and includes deep dive tutorials taught by industry experts including:


  • Integrating OpenFlow and OpenStack–  Rob Sherwood, ONF Chair, Architecture and Framework Working Group
  • Understanding White Box Networking Architecture and Economics–  J.R. Rivers, CEO and co-founder, Cumulus Networks
  • Getting Started with OpenFlow Deployments– Brent Salisbury, University of Kentucky, Network Architect
  • Understanding and Deploying Virtual Networks–  Srini Seetharaman, Technical Lead for SDN, Deutsche Telecom
  • Writing SDN Applications on Popular Controllers–  Matt Davy, Principal Solutions Architect and Chuck Black, Principal Software Architect, Tallac Networks


The ONUG Conference on October 30th features IT executive speakers evaluating, piloting or deploying programmable networks, SDN, OpenFlow, network overlay, white box, WAN, network visualization or virtualization solutions. Some of the speakers joining me at ONUG include:


  • Greg Lavender and Harmen Van der Linde, Citigroup
  • Michael Payne, JPMorgan Chase
  • Keith Shinn, Fidelity Investments
  • Najam Ahmad, Facebook
  • John Considine, Verizon Terremark
  • Lane Patterson, Equinix
  • Shamim Akhtar, Comcast
  • Nick Lippis, Lippis Report


I want to acknowledge and thank the vendors who have engaged with ONUG in this most transformative dialog and who will be featured in the Demonstrator Showcase sharing real world deployments of open networking solutions:  Adara Networks, Anuta Networks, Arista Networks, Big Switch Networks, Cisco, cPacket Networks, Cumulus Networks, Embrane, Extreme Networks, Gigamon, Glue Networks, HP, IBM, Ixia, Juniper Networks, NEC, Nuage Networks, OpenDaylight, PLUMgrid, Stateless Networks, vArmour, Vello Systems and VSS Monitoring.


Our world is changing and IT business leaders today are emboldened by our need to do more with less. We know what we want and understand that by standing together we send a strong message to vendors, standards and open source organizations that open networking today is customer driven.  Join us at ONUG later this month to see this all firsthand!

TechTarget readers receive a 10% discount by using code TT10 when registering for ONUG, click here.

Ernest LefnerAuthor Bio:

Ernest Lefner co-founded ONUG with Nick Lippis in 2012 after realizing that the user community needed to take control of their own destiny and expedite the network transformation. At the time he was VP of the Internetwork Engineering organization at Fidelity Investments and under his leadership Fidelity hosted the first ONUG in Boston in February 2013.

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