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Tencent Uses OpenDaylight for Critical Issues

Carol Wilson
9/28/2016

SEATTLE -- Although Chinese social media giant Tencent only joined OpenDaylight in February, it has been using the ODL controller for about two years to address critical network issues including connecting its data centers globally with greater flexibility, running its cloud network, scaling up virtual firewalls and Internet-based interconnection, a company executive told the OpenDaylight Summit today.

Tom Bie, vice president of technology and operation of data center, networking and servers for Tencent Inc. , said OpenDaylight controllers sit in the heart of the company's open networking strategy, as it works to be more agile and deliver services faster, while maintaining reliability and operations efficiency at scale.

Best known for its WeChat mobile social media app, which today has more than 800 million users, Tencent operates data centers in China but also in North America, Europe and South America, in support of its mobile customer base. And, as Bie explains, WeChat goes well beyond being a social media service: It also supports mobile payments, and much more.

"WeChat is not just a service and an application but WeChat is also an open platform -- we allow third parties to drive their live apps on top of WeChat to take advantage of the massive scale and number of users on WeChat," Bie said. "So today, you can hire a taxi, purchase train or air tickets or movie tickets, pay online or you can schedule your visa and update your passport -- all those municipal and public services also are linked to WeChat network."


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Tencent is part of a burst of Chinese activity for OpenDaylight, which now counts Chinese search giant Baidu Inc. (Nasdaq: BIDU) and web services player Alibaba Group as its members as well. Both ODL Executive Director Neela Jacques and Senior Technical Director Phil Robb encouraged the OpenDaylight Summit crowd on multiple occasions to check out the innovation happening in China as a result of the embrace of open source. (See ODL: Open Source Hastens Software Usability.)

"It's hard to overstate the innovation and the scale that is happening in China right now," Robb said after Bie's talk. "There is a lot to be learned from the Chinese, it's truly remarkable what is going on there."

Bie did also highlight challenges for the industry in general and for ODL specifically. He would like to see better definition of southbound interfaces. Today, Tencent uses Netconf as its main protocol but is forced to continue supporting BGP and SNMP, which it would rather not do. Its primary conversations with ODL developers here in Seattle are around performance, Bie said. "When we handle massive scale, we scale out to handle capacity and reliability, so we want ODL to do the same thing," Bie said. With the growing number of devices that talk to the ODL control, there is a need for load balancing, he added. The upgrade from one release to another still causes downtime which Tencent finds unacceptable, and Bie would like to see a standardized Yang model for a northbound interface, versus the many different Yang models in use today.

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

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