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CORD — besides being a catchy acronym — is simultaneously a vision, an architecture, and a reference implementation. The vision goes beyond the obvious buzzwords, and includes a collection of requirements that guide CORD's design. If you are looking for something tangible, today that would be the reference implementation. It's a specific set of hardware and software components, and a recipe for integrating those components into a coherent system. There is also a first draft of a CORD architecture, complete with data models and APIs. Given more time and experience integrating additional access technologies and services into CORD, we expect the architecture to evolve and for the reference implementation to include a broader set of options. See Read about the glossary CORD ecosystem for more guidance about how to talk about CORD. 

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At a technical level, XOS brings the Everything-as-a-Service organizing principle to the CORD architecture. In doing so, it addresses several of CORD's high-level design requirements, including a means to seamlessly integrate control plane (SDN) and data plane (NFV) based services; the ability to support both access services and conventional cloud services; support for multiple security domains; and the "end-to-end glue" needed to make CORD both extensible and controllable. At a project level, while XOS is a self-contained component of CORD (just like ONOS), it is not an independent open source project — it is managed under CORD's project governance.

Are ONOS and XOS mandatory parts of CORD?

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A data model is at the heart of CORD's design, but it goes beyond being "model-based" to actually being structured around a particular set of model definitions. These models (and the APIs they imply) effectively define the CORD architecture. The current reference implementation implements these models in Django (rather than YANG), which has turned out to be an an effective way to prototype the CORD architecture. The reference implementation could be augmented to represent the CORD models in YANG, and in fact, a project to do this is underway. See the CORD Guide for more information about Defining Models for CORD.