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HPE Closes the Door on OpenSDNHPE Closes the Door on OpenSDN

The OpenSDN product line from ConteXtream gets end-of-lifed, continuing HPE's struggles in SDN and NFV.

Craig Matsumoto

April 27, 2017

3 Min Read
HPE Closes the Door on OpenSDN

One of the earliest entrants in software-defined networking (SDN) has met its demise, as Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is shutting down its OpenSDN product family, a descendant of the SDN controller built by ConteXtream.

"HPE has discontinued development of OpenSDN and offers partner solutions in its place," a Hewlett Packard Enterprise spokesperson writes in an email. "We continue to invest and participate in relevant open source efforts to provide industry leadership and acceptance. Our mission has always been to be partner-centric and provide customers with choice and open systems. We continue on that path."

The Register first reported the news Wednesday night, citing an internal memo declaring End of Life status for OpenSDN.

Quoting part of the memo as published by The Register: "HPE will no longer offer a native telco/service provider SDN solution. We will rely on partners for this capability instead. This decision is made in light of business and financial considerations."

The memo goes on to say that HPE was planning no external announcements about the move.

OpenSDN pertains specifically to the service provider market. "I'm not believing this is spilling over into the data center side of SDN," says Cliff Grossner, an analyst with IHS Markit.

The company still has its VAN SDN controller for enterprise and campus networks, and Distributed Cloud Networking (DCN) for data centers. The HPE memo quoted by The Register notes that DCN and OpenSDN "are not perfect substitutes for each other."

While HPE stresses that the decision had nothing to do with the nature of open source software, the culling of OpenSDN isn't an encouraging sign for the blending of open source and telecom. (See Time for a Telecom Reboot.)

But OpenSDN's downfall seems to have more to do with SDN market starting to settle out, with ACI from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and NSX from VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) emerging as two of the predominate options.

It could also be considered a reflection of HPE's own struggles with the carrier market. In the case of NFV, the company lost its role as the lead vendor in a Telefónica deployment, and Light Reading reported in October that the company was having trouble delivering to Swisscom. (See Telefónica Ditches HPE as Virtualization Lead and HPE Fails to Deliver at Swisscom – Sources.)

"As a primary integrator, I don't think HPE was leading many projects," Grossner says. "For them, I think that investment to continue versus the return wasn't there. They're placing other bets."

Grossner also wonders if the spinoff of HPE's services business (a spin-merger with CSC) might have helped prod the decision to back out of OpenSDN and the proofs-of-concept (PoC) it was involved in. "Service providers expect quite a few years of investment from the vendor before there's any revenue," he says.

OpenSDN originated with ConteXtream, a startup whose birth in 2006 predates SDN. Back then, the rage was around the Grid, and ConteXtream envisioned doing BitTorrent-like things there. (See Grid Startup Takes to the Data Center.)

ConteXtream eventually turned its attention to SDN instead. Most of the early attention in SDN was on data centers and the enterprise, but ConteXtream -- like Contrail Systems, which was eventually acquired by Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) -- chose to focus on service providers, with ConteXtream putting particular emphasis on wireless operators. (See ConteXtream Claims a Carrier SDN Coup.)

ConteXtream also laid claim to having one of the first commercial SDN controllers to use code from the open source OpenDaylight Project. Hewlett-Packard Co. acquired the company in 2015 for an undisclosed sum. (See HP Acquiring ConteXtream for Carrier SDN.)

— Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Craig Matsumoto

Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

Yes, THAT Craig Matsumoto – who used to be at Light Reading from 2002 until 2013 and then went away and did other stuff and now HE'S BACK! As Editor-in-Chief. Go Craig!!

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