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SDN Journal: Article

Industry Creates OpenDaylight SDN Project

It could have a big fundamental impact on the cloud, Big Data, social business and mobile services

A few weeks ago Cisco, the king of networking, figured out a way out to control the current move to this newfangled software-defined networking (SDN) business. So it put in train an effort to create an open standards SDN consortium code-named Daylight. The non-disclosure agreement it insisted on reportedly foreswore Daylight members from joining any similar group.

Between then and now the industry supposedly rebelled against Cisco and forced the consortium into an open source effort called OpenDaylight.

A parallel effort started recently in response to the initial Daylight move over at the Object Management Group (OMG) that may not conform to the proposed OpenDaylight framework. That's why Dell up and joined OMG.

Cisco's not much of an open source player although it's more or less backing the OpenStack cloud platform and is putting KVM and Xen support in its Nexus 1000V switch.

Anyway, the shade lifted Monday on this new hush-hush SDN standardization push that could have a big fundamental impact on the cloud, Big Data, social business and mobile services.

It's picked up most of the key networking vendors but few of the start-ups that might challenge them with commodity gear. It will be hosted by the Linux Foundation, which is supposed to know a thing or two about creating a community.

IBM, Brocade, Citrix, Microsoft, Ericsson, Fujitsu, Juniper Networks, Big Switch Networks and of course Cisco are down as platinum OpenDaylight members, each paying $500,000 and assigning 10 full-time engineers to the cause for at least two years.

VMware and NEC will be gold members, which are supposed to pay somewhere between $50,000 and $250,000, depending on the size of the company, and dedicate three full-time engineers to the project for two years. Remember, now, VMware bought Nicira Network and its proprietary SDN widgetry last year for a packet alienating its buddy Cisco.

Arista, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Intel, Nuage Networks and PLUMgrid signed up as silver members and will pay $10,000 to $20,000, depending on their size.

Practically everybody is going contribute technology to the effort and pool their R&D costs. All suggestions have to pass through a steering committee.

Notice that Oracle, which bought Xsigo, is not represented. The fun and frustration will be watching how politics impedes good intentions and how the big vendors maneuver trying to stay big and important.

Anyway, the goal is to build a common SDN platform available under the Eclipse Public License (EPL) since it'll be written in Java.

The platform is supposed to be extensible, virtual and standards-based, functioning as a universal interface to manage virtual and physical switches and the rest of the network through software. It's supposed to be operating system-independent and available on multiple platforms.

God willing, it will be interoperable because lack of interoperability has been holding SDN back.

As it always planned to do Cisco is kicking in a goodly chunk of its Cisco ONE controller code, which will be the framework's basic foundation; a modular southbound plug-in architecture for multi-vendor environments; and an extensible northbound framework with both Java & REST APIs to ensure multiple developer skill-sets can build applications for the platform.

Cisco is also planning to build an onePK plug-in so multiple users can drive network intelligence into their SDN applications.

The widgetry, essentially an open source SDN stack, will support key standards like OpenFlow, the protocol spec'd out by the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), whose purpose may now be questionable, despite being backed by Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Verizon Communications and Yahoo.

ONF and OpenDaylight have different visions of the degree of standardization needed like with the northbound API. OpenDaylight means for it to be a standard; ONF doesn't.

At its simplest the idea is to make the network easier to use and more automated. It's also supposed to accelerate SDN adoption and perhaps wind up producing interoperable if distinctive products - maybe one that dominates the market.

It should one day put an end to manual network configurations and optimize the flow of information across increasingly complicated, cobbled together computer networks with software on the server. User should then be able to run their e-commerce sites, analytics and other applications more cost-effectively and make building private clouds easier.

The first code drop developers can do something with will be in Q3. It should include an open controller, a virtual overlay network, switch enhancements, protocol plug-ins and interfaces.

See www.opendaylight.org/announcements/2013/04/industry-leaders-collaborate-opendaylight-project-donate-key-technologies for a list of what the companies are prepared to contribute.

Big Switch, for instance, is planning to contribute open source elements of its Open SDN Suite, including controller code, advanced data store with high availability, distributed virtual routing service applications, network virtualization, network overlays, and other applications. It would seem to put Big Switch in competition with Cisco over the controller.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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