SDN’s promise of dynamic, programmable networks to support new applications like VM mobility remain, but a plethora of competing vendors’ SDN marketing hype has been muddying the waters on defining SDN -its vision, roadmap, and deployment timescale. While small SDN islands already exist today, ‘plug and play’ type interoperability was unlikely despite the OpenFlow ‘protocol.' So by taking a page from the open Linux platform’s development, a flock of systems vendors have launched OpenDaylight to build an open SDN platform in a transparent and collaborative environment overseen by the non-profit Linux Foundation. Membership to the OpenDaylight project is open to those willing to donate software and engineering prowess to develop an open source SDN platform. Founding members include Big Switch Networks, Brocade, Cisco, Citrix, Ericsson, IBM, Juniper Networks, Microsoft, NEC, Red Hat, and VMware. Other initial contributors include Arista Networks, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Intel, Nuage Networks, and PLUMgrid; most companies' preliminary contributions are outlined in the press release at www.opendaylight.org. Projects and donations include open controllers, protocol plug-ins, and switch device enhancements with a first code release expected 3Q13.
The service provider driven Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is doing a commendable job of advancing the principles, promise, and benefits of SDN, but the unexpected tsunami of interest in SDN, although welcomed, has led to an SDN bubble destined to pop. Allowing the market to decide on the best SDN solution isn’t necessarily the most expeditious or cost effective approach. Collaborative central planning within the SDN ecosystem could yield better results.
OpenDaylight’s success still remains to be seen, but we believe its existence accelerates and improves SDN’s prospects to more cost effectively scale networks. What is less likely is the prevalent myth that SDN controllers and white boxes will erase the likes of Cisco and Juniper from the networking map. OpenDaylight represents both a major SDN advance and disruption so we’ll be watching – please stay tuned as we’ll have our ears on the rail next week at ONS.