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Is ONOS About to Merge With OpenDaylight?Is ONOS About to Merge With OpenDaylight?

Potentially bringing together two SDN platforms, ONOS and the Linux Foundation's OpenDaylight.

Mitch Wagner

October 9, 2015

4 Min Read
Is ONOS About to Merge With OpenDaylight?

The community building the ONOS SDN controller plans to announce a partnership next week with the Linux Foundation, which already has its own SDN controller development in OpenDaylight (ODL), according to multiple sources that have spoken to Light Reading on condition of anonymity.

Precise details about the proposed relationship are still under wraps: For example, it is unclear whether ONOS will become a Linux Foundation project, or whether it will be folded into the OpenDaylight Project.

In addition, it is unclear how the current relationship between ONOS and ON.Lab , the non-profit that has guided ONOS since the software launched a year ago, will be affected. (See ON.Lab Intros Open Source SDN OS.)

At first glance, the two projects seem redundant, even competitive -- both ONOS and ODL are open source SDN controllers, after all. However, they're different and potentially complementary. Our sources point out that ONOS is designed for a single, particular use case -- high-performance and highly scalable programmable carrier networks built on white box systems.

OpenDaylight, on the other hand, has designed a general-purpose SDN controller for all network operators, including telcos, other communications service providers and enterprises. OpenDaylight is designed to work on existing networks that comprise proprietary networking gear as well as white boxes.

The two projects can complement each other, with ODL orchestrating configuration of network devices, says Heavy Reading analyst Caroline Chappell. ODL supports plugins for routing, including OpenFlow and BGP, and ONOS can be one of those plugins. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and other operators are apparently supporting a combination of OpenDaylight and ONOS as an alternative to today's vendor proprietary service orchestration and controller architectures, Chappell says.

"Having both open source developments under the same Linux Foundation roof makes perfect sense in this context," Chappell says.

"What people often don't get about SDN is that there are two parts to it -- management and routing," Chappell says in an email. "The management part deals with configuration of devices -- physical and virtual -- in order to instantiate, modify and delete a customer service in the network: The routing part does the traffic steering/service chaining that enables traffic flows between those specific devices participating in (and delivering) the service." Management and control of the network are "increasingly entwined to support service agility -- i.e. operators want to be able to reconfigure the network in near real-time in response to customer service requests and then that has an instant impact on routing."

That kind of network flexibility is essential for New IP deployments.

Such a partnership would also mend the relationship between the two groups -- the OpenDaylight community and ONOS project -- that has been cordial but strained, and heads off a potential split in the open source SDN community.

Publicly, leaders of the two groups speak respectfully of one another. But privately, ONOS representatives say OpenDaylight works for the vendors, not the network operators. Certainly, the ONOS "partners" and team members come from a mix of network operators and vendors, while the OpenDaylight leadership comprises representatives from vendors only.

OpenDaylight representatives, in turn, say ONOS failed to build a strong enough community with partner organizations and is too dependent on ON.Lab.

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However, the leaders of each organization speak respectfully of the other's work and code. Many individuals work on both projects, which facilitates idea sharing, our sources say.

ONOS members include AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), China Unicom Ltd. (NYSE: CHU), NTT Communications Corp. (NYSE: NTT), SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM) Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN), Fujitsu Ltd. (Tokyo: 6702; London: FUJ; OTC: FJTSY), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701).

OpenDaylight members include Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS), Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT), Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), ClearPath Networks Inc. , HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ), NEC and Intel.

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— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to [email protected].

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About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

Executive Editor, Light Reading

San Diego-based Mitch Wagner is many things. As well as being "our guy" on the West Coast (of the US, not Scotland, or anywhere else with indifferent meteorological conditions), he's a husband (to his wife), dissatisfied Democrat, American (so he could be President some day), nonobservant Jew, and science fiction fan. Not necessarily in that order.

He's also one half of a special duo, along with Minnie, who is the co-habitor of the West Coast Bureau and Light Reading's primary chewer of sticks, though she is not the only one on the team who regularly munches on bark.

Wagner, whose previous positions include Editor-in-Chief at Internet Evolution and Executive Editor at InformationWeek, will be responsible for tracking and reporting on developments in Silicon Valley and other US West Coast hotspots of communications technology innovation.

Beats: Software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), IP networking, and colored foods (such as 'green rice').

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