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ODL: Open Source Hastens Software Usability

Carol Wilson
9/27/2016
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SEATTLE -- Open Daylight Summit -- Open source is connecting users and developers more intimately, and that's a good thing, OpenDaylight Executive Director Neela Jacques said here today.

In kicking off the OpenDaylight Summit, Jacques said the ability of users and developers to work side-by-side is evolving, and helping drive the faster pace at which open source can bring solutions to the industry.

"Users can sit next to the developers of the code they use, and the interaction doesn't go one way," he said. "The real difference is the way users interact with developers. This is why we are able to get production-grade solutions so much faster than you ever would in proprietary world."

Getting software that is not just functional but also usable is important to speeding up its deployment, noted Santiago Rodriguez, vice president of engineering and head of product development unit, SDN & Policy Control, of Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) in his keynote.

"In my experience working with software, there is always a push for new features," he said. "But even if you do all of those features, it doesn't go mainstream."

The issue is usability -- until that is good enough, adoption is generally slow, Rodriguez said. "That's why it is important to see we have developers and users working together, because the developers get immediate feedback from the users on what they need," and can bring software to market more quickly that has usability as well.

Users are increasingly the driving force in OpenDaylight in terms of providing direction for its efforts, Jacques said, noting that more than half of the projects that were in Boron, ODL's most recent release, came from end-user organizations. (See Carriers Driving ODL's Boron Release.)

"I am often hit up by end users who wished the code did something it doesn't do right now," he said, adding that sometimes what they want isn't on the product roadmap. "AT&T wanted a better way to edit and create Yang models, and I had to tell them that it is not on the roadmap."

Instead of waiting for someone else to create that, AT&T found a developer and began to build it out -- it became the Yang Model Design Studio that is part of Boron. Similarly, Orange launched the project that became transport PCE and gathered a set of collaborators to help, and China Mobile launched a software-defined Packet Transport Network.

Jacques stressed "it just got real" as one theme for the ODL Summit, which moved north this year after two years in Silicon Valley. While open source in general is gaining traction in telecom, OpenDaylight in specific is succeeding in attracting both people and contributions, he said.

The total committed code contributions to open networking and SDN today come from 1,756 individuals, and 872 or those have committed code to ODL, Jacques said. In addition, the total number of code commits for ODL (61,022) is almost two thirds of the total code commitments to open networking and SDN in general (97,706) .

Jacques also touted increased diversity of the ODL community, particularly with the addition of major Chinese companies including the network operators -- China Mobile Communications Corp. announced its membership this week -- and the big three of Chinese web-scalers, Baidu Inc. (Nasdaq: BIDU), Alibaba Group and Tencent Inc. (See China Mobile Joins OpenDaylight.)

Finally, Jacques announced a new "Powered by ODL" badge that vendors can earn by committing to compliance rules, including offering only recent versions of ODL. The first companies to earn the badge are Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), Ericsson and Hewlett Packard Enterprise , plus industry startups Inocybe and Serro. (See OpenDaylight Launches Compliance Label.)

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

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