SDN architectures

Cisco Sees Daylight for SDN

The Daylight consortium led by Cisco Systems Inc. and IBM Corp. sounds an effort to control the conversation about software-defined networking (SDN), although the companies certainly aren't positioning it that way. Still, I think the equipment vendors must be nervous about how most SDN discussions have orbited around Big Switch Networks and Nicira Networks Inc. The Open Networking User Group (ONUG) meeting in February was reportedly rife with Big Switch references, for example. (See Users Want 'Open' SDN Done Right.) If you're Cisco, wouldn't you rather the conversation started with application programming interfaces (APIs) and programmability -- Cisco's own picture of where SDN should go? Nicira is part of a big company itself now, owned by VMware Inc. But that just exacerbates the threat: If you're Cisco or IBM, do you want VMware taking center stage on SDN? Daylight -- which might actually be named OpenDaylight, because everything in SDN has to be "open" -- hasn't been announced yet. So, yes, I'm guessing here. Most of what we know has been reported by the SDNCentral blog (run by Matt Palmer and Roy Chua of Wiretap Ventures) for the past few months. Daylight even has a rival effort, supposedly led by Dell, that was rumored to be surfacing in March but hasn't yet. Daylight supposedly is an open-source effort that knits together different SDN pieces from different companies. Cisco would provide an Java-based OpenFlow controller, for instance, while IBM would provide overlay-based network virtualization (analogous to Nicira). Other partners would be involved, too -- Citrix Systems Inc. providing service chaining, for instance. SDNCentral outlines its full theory here. The consortium isn't necessarily about dictating which products get used. I would expect Daylight to make very strong suggestions about which products might work best, though. What's the motivation, though? Pankaj Patel, Cisco's chief development officer, made a suggestion when I spoke with him recently. "I think you will see the landscape shift and change quite a bit this year," he said. "Right now, people are staking claim to their own territory. That will go away." He sees SDN as lacking a true dialogue among multiple players, as opposed to each vendor suggesting its own SDN worldview. Cisco is working with partners in a way that they're hoping won't become "siloed and parochial," he said. So, Daylight might be pitched as a stab at creating SDN Unity. But so far, it seems Big Switch and VMware aren't involved. Which makes me wonder: Maybe Daylight is more about wresting the spotlight away. Details about the consortium, including its true stated purpose, should be coming out soon. The Open Networking Summit starts April 15, so it would be ideal to announce something then, or just before then. Just as interesting as the details themselves will be the way that the players pitch Daylight. — Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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