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OpenDaylight Ships 'Lithium,' Updated SDN Controller

Mitch Wagner
6/29/2015
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The OpenDaylight Project today introduced Lithium, the latest version of its SDN controller, positioning the software as the "path from the network you have to the network you want."

The software focuses on improved performance and changes to reflect the changing needs of the ODL community, Neela Jacques, OpenDaylight Project executive director, told Light Reading.

"It's a pretty critical release for us," Jacques says. "I view it as us turning the corner from a focus on technology to a focus on users."

The first release of OpenDaylight, Hydrogen, in February 2014, was simply focused on proving the technology could work. Helium, the next version, in September, saw "a huge range of people" adopting the controller, including small startups, big companies such as Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), as well as research institutions and companies including AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) putting OpenDaylight into production for its Network On Demand services. (See OpenDaylight Unveils Open-Source SDN Controller, OpenDaylight Releases Major 'Helium' Upgrade, Brocade Debuts OpenDaylight SDN Controller and SDN Powers AT&T's Rapid On-Demand Expansion.)

Increased adoption benefits the OpenDaylight community, but increases "the pressure in the pressure cooker," Jacques says. ODL needs to invest in scalability, performance, stability and improved documentation. Fortunately, the community is growing with resources to meet those challenges, with 43 projects and 460 developers.

During OpenDaylight's short lifespan, the industry has changed a great deal. OpenDaylight must adapt to meet those changes, including supporting NFV, which has gone from a white paper to maturing technology, Jacques says.

The default stack for new carrier networking deployments is the KVM hypervisor, Open vSwitch for the switch, OpenDaylight SDK controller and OpenStack for the cloud, Jacques says. Although some carriers use other software, most are turning to that stack. For OpenDaylight, that means the community needs to invest to work with OpenStack and Neutron.

OpenDaylight is emerging as a "path from the network you have to the network you want," Jacques says. In some cases, network operators build greenfield networks based on OpenFlow, with OpenDaylight as the OpenFlow controller.

But all network operators -- other than cloud newcomers like Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) -- also have brownfield networks they need to keep running, with a mix of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Arista Networks Inc. , white box switches and other equipment. OpenDaylight, with support for multiple southbound interfaces, can help a brownfield network grow and adapt, Jacques says.

Overall, OpenDaylight's goal is to build a general-purpose SDN controller adaptable to all use cases, rather than specialized software, Jacques says.


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


So what's in Lithium?

"The main focus for Lithium has been that platform's quality improvements," says Mathieu Lemay, CEO of Inocybe, a major contributor to the OpenDaylight code base and a director of OpenDaylight representing the technical community. Inocybe provides training and a commercial distribution of OpenDaylight, and helps leveraging real-life deployment, similar to the role Mirantis Inc. plays with OpenStack.

The community also improved usability, configurability, scalability and integration testing, as well as creating a dedicated group for improving performance in a variety of use cases.

Lithium also enhances security, in the wake of an embarrassing vulnerability exposure late last year.

Next page: Maturing process

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Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
6/29/2015 | 5:33:34 PM
Re: Slight correction to my quote about VPN
No, that was my fault. You said "Layer" and I heard "Layer." I don't know why I typed "Level." My fingers were leading lives of their own. It's fixed now. Thanks for letting us know and for speaking with us the other day. 
jktlinuxguy
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jktlinuxguy,
User Rank: Light Beer
6/29/2015 | 3:37:44 PM
Slight correction to my quote about VPN
It seems that my southern accent made "layer" sound more like "level".  Oops.  CloudRouter is excited about the "Layer 3 VPN" functionality being delivered in Lithium.  Sorry about that.
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