& cplSiteName &

Who Does What: SDN Controllers

Mitch Wagner
12/5/2014
100%
0%

The controller is the logical control center of the SDN network, communicating with switches via its "southbound" interface to provide networking instructions and communicating with applications via its "northbound" interface.

In SDN's purest form, the controller has all the intelligence: Switches are dumb, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) devices that are managed by the controllers.

Operators that find this pure approach too rigorous can instead opt for an overlay, espoused by Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) and other vendors. In the overlay approach, the SDN network runs as a software layer on top of existing networks. Switches can be either COTS or proprietary.

SDN controller deployments are mostly to be found in data centers currently, but they have also been deployed in wide area enterprise networks and are creeping into wide area service provider networks too as carrier-class capabilities come to market and business cases are identified.

SDN, in theory, allows networks to be programmable, flexible and cheaper to run. It's foundational to the New IP -- the transformation of carrier networks from cost centers to revenue drivers delivering value to customers. (See Introducing 'The New IP' .)

Light Reading took a quick look at the SDN controller marketplace and compiled a list of vendors and open source organizations that are offering, or have developed, SDN controllers or the code that can be used to develop one (in the case of the open source community).

The list is split into two: vendors with commercial products; and the open source projects/organizations that are engaging the wider community to develop SDN controller software. Many of the commercial vendor controllers are based on open source code, particularly that developed by OpenDaylight , a collaborative project set up by the Linux Foundation .

Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) recently threw its weight behind open source SDN, introducing the Vyatta Controller based on OpenDaylight. (See Brocade Debuts OpenDaylight SDN Controller.)

In the commercial marketplace, VMWare and Cisco are the two giants competing for control. Cisco's SDN weapon is its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), while VMware's arms itself with its NSX software.

Cisco and VMware support the philosophy that intelligence should be in the software, but Cisco's proposition supports its own proprietary hardware that shares network management responsibilities with its controller. VMware runs as a layer atop other companies' networking hardware.

Other companies fighting for SDN market share have mostly developed products that are based on the OpenFlow protocol and its associated networking philosophy. OpenFlow is the vanguard of the pure SDN approach.

And it's not just the vendors that are developing SDN controllers: AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is developing a home-grown SDN controller. (See AT&T Working on Home-Grown SDN Controller for Later in 2014 .)


Want to know more about SDN? Visit Light Reading's SDN architectures content channel.


One of the major considerations for data center and network operators looking to deploy SDN controllers is whether they are truly interoperable and multivendor: One of the main promises of SDN is that it will free operators from vendor lock-in.

Multivendor support is a big deal, notes Roz Roseboro, senior analyst at Heavy Reading . "Operators don't want to be tied down. They don't want the choice of controllers to influence what switches they can use. They want to mix and match with whatever integration work is required," Roseboro says. Operators want to be able to work with the networking hardware they have, without ripping anything out.

Operators also need to consider whether to adopt a centralized or distributed approach, says Roseboro, who is preparing a report on SDN controllers. "There are some who believe there should be a master controller that watches over everything, and others who believe some of the intelligence should be on the hypervisor so it can make local decisions," she says.

So, here is our list of SDN controllers. If there are others out there, we can easily add them in as they emerge. Let us know about additions and updates using the comment board below.

Next Page: Commercial Controllers

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to wagner@lightreading.com.

(10)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Dukie
100%
0%
Dukie,
User Rank: Light Beer
1/28/2015 | 2:36:09 PM
Re: AT&T?
Is Adara Networks a future Player in this arena?
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
1/9/2015 | 5:18:58 PM
Re: Which part of the network
Atlantis-dude: A big question, too broad to address here, but possibly worthy of a follow-up article. 
Atlantis-dude
50%
50%
Atlantis-dude,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/5/2015 | 1:41:21 PM
Which part of the network
i.e. edge/core/dc/wan  enterprise/SP are each of these targeted to?
mhhf1ve
50%
50%
mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/19/2014 | 5:04:15 PM
Perhaps this guide needs a wiki?
I think at the rate this space is moving.. a wiki will be needed to keep up with all the players and updates and changes.
jhichert
100%
0%
jhichert,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/19/2014 | 10:28:14 AM
Please add
Company: Ocedo

Controller: Ocedo Connect, a cloud-based console for managing distributed enterprise networks. Combined with Ocedo Gateways, Switches, and Access Points, Ocedo Connect enables IT providers to centralize and automate WAN deployment and management.

About: Founded in 2013 in Germany, Ocedo's mission is to help organizations to be more agile and to grow faster by automating their distributed enterprise networks.

Find out more:
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
12/12/2014 | 5:14:41 PM
Re: More controllers
Good tips all. We do plan to update this so keep those suggestions coming!
Y(J)S
50%
50%
Y(J)S,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/12/2014 | 6:16:44 AM
More controllers
Please add Ryu (which you actually mention earlier) and Openmul to the open source list. Other controllers (for more exotic languages) are Trema, NodeFlow and FLOWer. There are also a large number of experimental platforms from the academic community. BTW, ONOS is built over Floodlight.

In the commercial list  I didn't see the Tail-f (now Cisco) NCS.

Y(J)S

 
jmcolna
50%
50%
jmcolna,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/11/2014 | 2:53:21 PM
Active Broadband Networks’ SDN Controller
Mitch,

You overlooked Active Broadband Networks' SDN controller, which was announced earlier this year. Below is description from the company's most recent product press release:

Active Broadband has developed the industry's first Software-Defined Broadband Network Gateway (SD-BNG), which consists of the APG/80 Active Programmable Gateway, a pure software switch for high-performance packet processing that is fully programmable via OpenFlow control, and the Active Resource Controller (ARC), an SDN controller optimized for broadband service orchestration and delivery with real-time, dynamic QoE management. Controlling the APG/80 with OpenFlow, the ARC facilitates autonomous, simplified, traffic-driven service activation.  The ARC gains its intelligence by collecting, mediating and further processing real-time IP flow information provided by the APG/80 -- delivering usable, actionable QoE information to enable customers' service expectations to be met.   The ARC also automates the use of QoE information, dynamically modifying customers' services using OpenFlow control of the APG/80.  Based on Big Data technology, the ARC computes and displays experience metrics that provide both operators and their customers with visibility into service utilization and network conditions, as well as application usage.  The ARC's Big Data technology provides a platform for data scientists to either directly analyze broadband service information or to integrate broadband service information into a larger analysis platform. The ARC leverages technology developed for legacy OSS-based service management, and is a proven, robust platform that can be deployed as a virtual appliance or as software components on operator-managed physical or virtual platforms.
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
12/10/2014 | 12:30:10 PM
Re: AT&T?
Good question. Something to follow up on. 
R Clark
50%
50%
R Clark,
User Rank: Blogger
12/9/2014 | 9:37:02 PM
AT&T?
Thanks for the handy guide.

Whatever happened to AT&T's SDN Controller? I wonder if they weren't actually referring to ONOS from ON.Lab. They said it would be out by year-end.
From The Founder
The time has come for a telecom app store to save the industry.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Documentaries
BCE 2017: Intel's Take on Network Transformation

5|24|17   |     |   (0) comments


In this BCE 2017 keynote, Lynn Comp discusses Intel's vision for areas such as analytics, automation and service assurance. For more videos and BCE coverage, see http://www.lightreading.com/bce.asp.
LRTV Documentaries
Order From Chaos: The Steve Saunders BCE Keynote

5|24|17   |   17:27   |   (0) comments


Kicking off BCE 2017, Light Reading founder Steve Saunders lays blame for NFV's slow ramp-up and urges telecom to return to old-fashioned standards building and interoperability testing.
Think of this as the video sequel to the recent columns he's written about NFV and the prospect of a telecom app store. (See

LRTV Documentaries
Service Provider Panel: Partnering in the Digital Era

5|22|17   |     |   (0) comments


Coopetition has always been part of telecom, but the ecosphere now includes data centers, vendors, apps developers, cloud service providers and Internet content providers. This BCE 2017 panel explores the new attitudes among network operators as to the value and variety of ...
LRTV Interviews
Site Demo: AT&T's IoT Flow Platform

5|19|17   |   04:25   |   (0) comments


At AT&T's R&D center in Tel Aviv, Israel, project leader Eyal Segev talks about the operator's Flow platform and how it helps to prototype IoT applications.
LRTV Documentaries
Agent of Change: A Q&A With AT&T's John Donovan

5|18|17   |     |   (0) comments


Carol Wilson talks with the man leading AT&T's transformation efforts about the challenge of change.
LRTV Documentaries
BCE Service Provider Panel: The New Business Realities

5|18|17   |     |   (0) comments


For virtualization to happen, the telecom industry first has to grapple with key functional aspects of SDN and NFV that need to be universal, such as onboarding of virtualized network functions and federation of software-defined networks.
LRTV Interviews
BCE Service Provider Keynote: CenturyLink

5|16|17   |   22:32   |   (0) comments


Aamir Hussain leads the Product Development and Technology organization at CenturyLink, which includes the company's information technology function. He is an experienced senior technology executive with more than 25 years of proven success in the implementation of global technology operations, operationalization of complex technology, infrastructures and business ...
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink CTO on Transformation

5|16|17   |   7:43   |   (0) comments


The 80-year-old telco has already gone through several transformations, including every time it made an acquisition, but its purchase of Level 3 coupled with changes in technology and customer expectations necessitates its biggest transformation yet.
LRTV Documentaries
Light Reading Hall of Fame 2017

5|15|17   |   5:05   |   (1) comment


Find out who made it into Light Reading's Hall of Fame this year.
LRTV Interviews
Site Visit: AT&T's Tel Aviv R&D Center

5|15|17   |   09:58   |   (1) comment


Nir Shalom, general manager and VP of application development at AT&T Israel, talks about the key service developments undertaken at the AT&T R&D facility in Tel Aviv and how the team there has adopted new ways of working.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Act on Your Intelligence With Amdocs aia!

5|15|17   |     |   (0) comments


Amdocs CMO Gary Miles explains how communications service providers can seize the AI opportunity with Amdocs real-time digital intelligence platform.
LRTV Interviews
Logtel CEO: Making Sense of IoT

5|15|17   |   09:48   |   (0) comments


Jacques Bensimon, founder and CEO of Tel Aviv-based training and consultancy Logtel, talks about the need to make IoT more than just a buzzword.
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
AT&T's Donovan: Women Adapt Faster Than Men
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 5/18/2017
Cities Clamor for More Clout at FCC
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/23/2017
What's Blocking 4K TV Today
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 5/22/2017
Sonus & Genband Finally Combine to Form $745M Company
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 5/23/2017
Fright Wigs & Cocktails: BCE 2017 in Pics
Mitch Wagner, Editor, Enterprise Cloud, 5/19/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
One of the nice bits of my job (other than the teeny tiny salary, obviously) is that I get to pick and choose who I interview for this slot on the Light Reading home ...
TEOCO Founder and CEO Atul Jain talks to Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the challenges around cost control and service monetization in the mobile and IoT sectors.
Animals with Phones
What Brogrammers Look Like to the Rest of Us Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.