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OpenDaylight: Vendor SDN Aids Open Effort

Carol Wilson

Service providers and datacenter operators are being flooded by vendor-specific solutions to their virtual networking challenges, and that is only increasing their need for a standards-based open solution, the newly appointed director of the OpenDaylight Project said this week. (See OpenDaylight Names Exec Director.)

In an interview with Light Reading, former VMWare executive Nicolas "Neela" Jacques says server virtualization can easily deliver virtualized compute power today, but virtualized storage and particularly virtualized networking remain challenges for enabling a truly virtualized datacenter. That is where OpenDaylight , a collaborative open source project launched by the Linux Foundation , expects to be able to advance the cause of software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), with significant results as early as next year.

"Every vendor seems to have some solution called a virtual network, not unlike the way everyone was talking about cloud four to five years ago," Jacques says. "The problem I heard over and over again -- yes, there are solutions out there, in fact there are too many solutions. I need something that works with everything else, because no one vendor can do everything."

Jacques' comments come during a period in which major networking vendors are, in fact, stepping up to the virtual networking challenge, both in ways some describe as "open" and others frankly do not. (See Cisco's ACI Gets Physical With SDN, Juniper Unveils Datacenter MetaFabric, and Arista Announces Datacenter Switches.)

Because these networking players and others are part of OpenDaylight, which has already delivered SDN architecture details and will have a new release in December for SDN and possibly NFV, Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin argues the open source effort is already tackling the issue of too many separate approaches to virtualization. That effort will bear fruit later this year, but much more significantly next year, he says.

With the backing of non-traditional networking companies such as Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), the academic community and telecom giants such as Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), as well as the networking biggies, OpenDaylight has the critical mass needed to create an industry-wide solution that trumps anything a single entity can do. Ultimately, Zemlin says, the open source approach is "not only something their customers are requesting, but a better cheaper way to create this new infrastructure."

What OpenDaylight is promising is not just a way of delivering pieces of SDN, such as the SDN controller, but "an open source SDN platform that everybody can plug into," based on a common standard that is delivered as code that can be used immediately, Jacques says.

"That's a big difference -- OpenDaylight is shipping code, and service providers can take this code and install it within their environment and get immediate results," Jacques says.

Vendors can also use it to bring what they have in line with industry standards, or they can use it, change the source code to improve it and share those changes, as part of the open-source collaboration process.

OpenDaylight is also tackling NFV, working to put into open source code the output of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) -based Industry Specification Group (ISG) that is working on NFV specifications.

Zemlin says the two groups have communicated, but that there's no need for direct liaison activity, as OpenDaylight is able to take the public documents out of the ISG and work with those.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Beer
11/13/2013 | 4:55:59 PM
ODP versus CloudNFV
A comment in the article states that ODP is also "tackling" NFV by incorporating ETSI ISG NFV specs into ODP.

This statement raises a question in my mind ... what are the advantages of CloudNFV open source implementation over ODP implementation as they applies to NFV?

NFV was spawned based upon requirements focused on operator networks, while SDN was borne out of campus networks (academic, large enterprise) requirements. The former optimizes efficient, end-to-end multi-vendor manageability. The latter emphasizes programmability.

Will ODP serve both sets of requirements in one batch of source code? I gather that CloudNFV would argue that it wont/cant. Or are the carrier networking requirements so unique that two separate open source projects will be required - one for carrier, one for enterprise/campus?


sam masud
sam masud,
User Rank: Light Sabre
11/13/2013 | 1:06:01 PM
Re: What will December bring?

Do you know if OpenDaylight plans to do any interoperability testing of various vendor implementations of its source code? I would imagine having an independent outfit (like the Metro Ethernet Forum has) also certifiy vendor implementations would be a good idea.

User Rank: Moderator
11/13/2013 | 11:39:24 AM
Re: What will December bring?
I think where ODP can succeed is in delivering a platform. I actually believe ODP is more platform that controller. If it really is extensible, then even if proprietary elements emerge, customers can still settle on a single point of control solution.

Additionally, I think the reality in the short term is that people need to experiment to see what technologies will emerge. We should be pushing new code out, testing it, iterating, and failing or promoting quickly. Standards might be the outcome once we know more, but asking for consensus before you try something out seems a bit inhibiting.

-Mike Bushong (@mbushong)

User Rank: Blogger
11/12/2013 | 8:26:38 PM
Re: What will December bring?
Initeresting to hear they are not too worried about some of the more proprietary takes on SDN out there now. I guess that's the environment they are operating in whether they like it or not.
Carol Wilson
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
11/12/2013 | 11:00:55 AM
What will December bring?
Jacques and Gimlin are convinced Open Daylight can make a difference sooner rather than later. The next release is scheduled for December, and it will be interesting to see how much progress has been made to date. 
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