A scant 10 months after its founding, the consortium announces functional software code for open-source SDN, including service provider hooks.

February 4, 2014

3 Min Read
OpenDaylight Unveils Open-Source SDN Controller

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Open Daylight Summit -- Only 10 months after its launch, the OpenDaylight Project is releasing software for its Hydrogen platform that enables a common, open-source software-defined networking (SDN) controller to work with a multitude of vendor switches and routers. (See OpenDaylight Launches Open-Source SDN Controller Platform.)

The announcement, which kicked off the first Open Daylight Summit here Monday, is aimed at smashing what has been a major barrier to SDN deployment to date, namely the limited interoperability of the commercially developed SDN controllers delivered to the market. What's available now are vendor-specific controllers that typically work only with the network equipment of their maker, and possibly a few other companies as part of a created ecosystem. What the Hydrogen platform will enable is a single controller that works across vendor lines, promises Neela Jacques, executive director, OpenDaylight . (See What OpenDaylight Really Wants to Do and OpenDaylight: Vendor SDN Aids Open Effort.)

"The competing controllers are really standing in the way of people adopting SDN," says Jacques, whose group now includes 33 members intent on speeding up deployment of SDN and the complementary network functions virtualization (NFV). "This is the start of something really big. It will also enable collaborative development in networking."

Hydrogen's architecture was announced last fall. Today's release is functional code that acts as a service abstraction layer that can provide the northbound capabilities to a wide range of routers and switches, and comes in a basic edition and two more advanced editions, one targeting the datacenter and another specifically adapted for service providers. The basic edition of the platform incorporates an OpenFlow Plugin and an OpenFlow Protocol Library, as well as Open vSwitch Database (OVSDB) support and YANG tools that enable NETCONF for automatic network configuration.

The service provider edition adds support for protocols such as BGP-LS, LISP, and SNMP, all used in service provider networks, along with APIs for controlling Ethernet switches and Defense4All, a distributed denial of service attack detection and mitigation framework.

The question becomes whether service providers will want to move quickly to an open-source SDN controller approach -- which many of them have said they want -- and push vendors in that direction as well.

"Service providers have a big interest in SDN as an enabling technology to NFV," Jacques says. "They need a level of network agility so they can roll out new services faster without as much opex and people involved."

That's why Hydrogen includes NetConf, an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) protocol for network configuration, and Yang, a data modeling language that supports NetConf, to automate network processes and enable service providers to quickly stand up virtual machines and to do service chaining. The SNMP support enables it to work with older network systems.

The speed with which Hydrogen was developed substantially boosts the case for SDN built on open-source software, given that speed to market and deployment is generally more associated with vendor-specific equipment.

Jacques believes that with Hydrogen's release, some of the companies that have stayed on the sidelines of SDN deployment or have just been dabbling will become much more engaged. That includes service providers, who have been stymied not only by the proliferation of incompatible controllers but also by the lack of network management tools.

Separately, the OpenDaylight Project announced its newest two members, SDN startup ConteXtream and Qosmos, which makes software for network intelligence, bringing its membership to 33 companies, up from the original 18. Jacques believes that number will continue to grow, quite possibly at a faster pace.

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

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