SDN architectures

Carriers Driving ODL's Boron Release

One of the things that makes today's fifth release of the OpenDaylight controller software -- dubbed Boron -- remarkable is the fact that more than half of the projects proposed were led by contributions from users, namely major telecom players including AT&T, Orange, Telia, Telefonica, China Mobile and Comcast. (See OpenDaylight Issues Boron Release.)

That's a sign of OpenDaylight 's maturity, says Executive Director Neela Jacques, and an indication of the pace at which work is happening as more users become engaged as contributors as well. Boron also includes major support for cloud/NFV, something sought by its user members, and the results of collaborative efforts between ODL and other open source groups. The overall impact of the new release is stabilization of existing features and a focus on performance as well.

"One of the things we are always tracking is the size of the community and of the ecosystem," Jacques comments. "With Boron, we have over 800 contributors as part of this release. We have three-quarters of the top 20 service providers who are giving advice but also starting to contribute. That is starting to change the relationships in the project."

ODL was the first open source controller to the market but now faces competition from ONOS , as well as vendor-specific controllers. Jacques admits to some "overlap" between ODL and ONOS, but sees that as a user-choice issue. The vendor solutions, particularly those from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW), remain popular with network operators who want a bundled option rather than having to do their own development, he says, and that's not going to change. ONOS recently scored a win with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , which based its next-gen controller on that operating system. (See Huawei Launches Industry First Full-Scenario Agile Controller 3.0.)

With service providers and also now systems integrators becoming more active and providing developers, the ODL ecosystem is building much more rapidly, and addressing deployment problems and challenges faster as well, Jacques says, in an interview with Light Reading. The major user-led projects he cites include:

  • AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s ECOMP, the network management and orchestration software platform AT&T developed using ODL and is now contributing to open source
  • YangIDE, the Yang Model Design Studio, also from AT&T, supporting the building of new Yang models
  • China Mobile Communications Corp. 's software-defined packet transport network design
  • NetIDE, an effort led by Telefónica and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) for controller interoperability across OSSs
  • Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s EMAN, which improves network energy efficiency.

ODL Senior Technical Director Phil Robb notes one major benefit of connecting service provider developers directly with vendor developers in an open source process: faster development with less "signal to noise ratio" in communicating what the service provider needs with what the vendor develops, due to the elimination of layers of bureaucracy in the regular RFP/buying process.

The other indication of maturity is that ODL's components are being used to solve real-world deployment issues, Jacques says. One of those is service chaining for NFV deployments, and in that arena, another open source project, Open Platform for NFV Project Inc. has helped drive new requirements and functionality for its members, including a service to validate service-chain packet flow, enhanced support for FD.io (Fast Data input-output) service chain identification and support for the latest Open V-Switch release.

"This is a strong area of development for us, working with OpenFlow, OVSDB [Open vSwitch Database] and FD.io are the most amount of work going on right now for service chaining," Robb says.

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The industry has reached the point where companies can assemble the components to create an NFV environment with a virtualized network and the ability to service-chain functions and manage them, Jacques says. ODL is providing core capabilities that enable the service chaining in Boron.

Another key piece of the new release is a focus on standardizing common northbound and southbound interfaces to improve what ODL calls Scalability, Security, Stability, and Performance. Boron also standardizes use of protocols such as OpenFlow, BGP and BGP-VPN and effective modeling of those protocols. And Boron adds support for the Open Compute Project.

Cooperation with other open source groups continues to propel ODL, including support for CORD, the Central Office Re-Architected as a Data Center, now an open source project of its own but originally developed by ONOS. (See CORD Fuels Access Virtualization Push.)

More information on Boron will be available at next week's OpenDaylight Summit and Light Reading will be there in Seattle to share it with you.

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

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