If you’re reading this, you've likely already seen the breaking news about the multi-vendor, open-source SDN initiative dubbed “OpenDaylight Project.” As a founding member, Brocade committed early to this project and it’s great to see the news out in the open now.
When briefing industry analysts last week, one analyst posed this question: Why was OpenDaylight initiated by a multi-vendor effort instead of being driven by customers with a collective interest, as was the way with Open Networking Foundation? It was a perfect question to expose the very essence of what is needed for Software-Defined Networking to progress.
The concept of SDN does not discriminate between the types of network infrastructure being programmed and managed. SDN elevates the discussion beyond a product type – say, switches – and extends to routers, storage networking, security, load balancing and application delivery. SDN also elevates beyond hardware networking, to include software networking as well.
In order to enable entire networks to be programmable, it became apparent that the first move had to come from the vendors themselves. They had to first agree to a collective, open concept in order for the industry to move forward and innovation to thrive. As such, OpenDaylight is the most ambitious example of openness the networking industry has seen in ages.
To be clear, OpenDaylight is not about creating standards; it’s about creating code and reference designs that can be leveraged in a multi-vendor infrastructure environment. The OpenDaylight code base will change rapidly: Counting just the developers already committed by vendors (and not adding in the come-one-come-all developers a project like this attracts), the OpenDaylight code base will have been advanced by 100 man-years just in the next 365 days. That’s phenomenal inertia for customers to leverage, and it will all be available in the battle-tested open-source licensing model of Eclipse.
This is truly a new era in networking. Vendors are agreeing to an abstracted controller as a level playing field and agreeing to advance its capabilities. This shifts the vendors’ focus of strategic advantage away from traditional speeds and feeds and toward the ability to support rich, value-adding network applications.
As with all new eras, they have to start somewhere. OpenDaylight does that with aplomb. As customers seek to differentiate their business differentiation through network capabilities, this is going to be one fascinating ride.