It isn’t easy being a start-up. First, the SDN future looked bright, promising start-ups an opportunity to unseat incumbent IP and Ethernet networking titans. Concerned network and cloud service providers had banded together to form the Open Networking Foundation (ONF.org – now at 100 members) to help define programmable networks with a separate, open control plane, initially based on a coincidentally like-minded university’s OpenFlow controller for an enterprise networking test bed. Facing the doom of rapid traffic growth with little new revenue (the classic ‘scissor’ diagram), the current NSP Capex model to scale networks needed to change or they would need to raise prices, potentially strangling the life from the mobile and Internet golden goose pair. And to take server virtualization to the next level, namely VM mobility, Cloud SPs need network virtualization and SDN to make them bandwidth dynamic and enable application calls for bandwidth on-demand. So venture capital flowed like milk and honey to eager SDN start-ups, all expecting to emulate Nicira’s very good fortune.
But then the sleeping networking giants (a.k.a good shepards, or jolly ranchers?) stirred when they saw their cash cow herds at-risk to the new start-up wolves. Should they armor their cash-cows or might a scarecrow do? On April 8th, 2013 OpenDaylight was launched. From ODL’s mission: “At this early stage of SDN adoption, the industry acknowledges the benefits of establishing an open, reference framework for programmability and control through an open source SDN solution. Such a framework maintains the flexibility and choice to allow organizations to deploy SDN as they please, yet still mitigates many of the risks of adopting early stage technologies and integrating with existing infrastructure investments.”