Vendors collaborate on open-source SDN platform

April 12th, 2013 by · Leave a Comment

This article was authored by John C. Tanner, and was originally posted on

ITEM: A group of 18 vendors have banded together to create a collaboration project to make software-defined networking (SDN) more interoperable.

The project, called “OpenDaylight”, was announced on Monday. It’s hosted by the Linux Foundation, and its stated goal is this: “a common and open SDN platform for developers to utilize, contribute to and build commercial products and technologies upon.”

Founders include Big Switch Networks, Brocade, Cisco, Citrix, Ericsson, IBM, Juniper Networks, Microsoft, NEC, Red Hat and VMware, who will donate software and engineering resources. Other companies onboard include Arista Networks, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Intel, Nuage Networks and PLUMgrid.

OpenDaylight is chiefly intended as a complementary effort to the Open Networking Foundation’s ongoing standardization of OpenFlow, the protocol that many (but by no means all) vendors support as the chief (if not exclusive) enabling protocol for SDN. Because OpenFlow doesn’t cover all the bases for SDN deployment, networking vendors have been developing other SDN tools on their own. OpenDaylight aims to create an open and transparent framework for such tools.

That’s going to be crucial for SDN to succeed, Mike Spanbauer of Current Analysis tells NetworkWorld Asia:

Without it, enterprises and service providers are limited in how much they can simplify management across their networks, which in most cases contain equipment from more than one vendor, he said. In addition, developers of third-party software have to work with each networking vendor separately, which raises their costs and keeps some developers out, Spanbauer said.

For example, SDN could allow an application accelerator to make changes to the switches in a network to speed up performance, Spanbauer said. But today, that couldn’t happen unless the accelerator and switch were made by the same vendor or there was software written specifically to work between those products, he said. A cross-vendor SDN platform could open up the field to more outside developers.

The OpenDaylight Project said in a statement the first code is slated for release in Q3 this year, and is expected to include “an open controller, a virtual overlay network, protocol plug-ins and switch device enhancements.”

While the project sounds great on paper, questions abound over how well it will work in reality, notes Spanbauer:

“The question is, how much of the innovation will they be contributing back to the open-source component versus keeping to themselves as secret sauce?”

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