OpenDaylight Project Picks Up Steam

Virtualized physical servers can scale rapidly to meet customers' changing demands, said Capital American's David Christophersen. "AT&T, ClearPath and Nokia are embracing software-defined networking and server virtualization for a number of business and technical reasons. Legacy routing equipment is expensive to maintain and does not scale dynamically in the world of cloud computing."

The OpenDaylight Project this week announced that AT&T, ClearPath Networks and Nokia Networks have joined, bringing its membership total to 359.

OpenDaylight is a collaborative open source project hosted by the Linux Foundation. Its goal is twofold: accelerate the adoption of software-defined networking; and create a solid foundation for network functions virtualization.

The Linux Foundation announced the project in 2013, and ODL released its third software version, dubbed “Lithium,” last month.

The project’s founding platinum and gold members are Arista Networks, Big Switch Networks, Brocade, Cisco, Citrix, Ericsson, IBM, Juniper Networks, Microsoft, NEC, Red Hat and VMware.

The end game is to offer a functional platform that gives users directly deployed SDN without the need for other components.

“Transition is happening now. It is not an overnight process. Networks are not something you can easily rip and replace,” said Phil Robb, senior director of technical operations for the OpenDaylight Project.

Essential Upgrade

The ODL project gives the industry a new framework to implement software-defined networking. It is a different paradigm for the way people construct and deploy their networks. The industry currently has no competing technology to do this, Robb told LinuxInsider.

“It is a new way of building and deploying your networks. It replaces legacy switches that combine the routing intelligence, as well as the switching and the data flow, in the same box. The idea behind SDN is to separate those two, so the switch becomes less intelligent and there is some kind of centralized controller that can see the network end-to-end,” he explained.

The expansion of cloud and virtualization services and the growth of the Internet of Things are creating challenges for existing networks, which lack the agility to transform with any kind of speed. That is why the industry palyers are all rallying behind ODL and SDN, said Robb.

Replacing Outdated Tech

Telecom carriers like AT&T traditionally invest billions of dollars in specialized hardware for routing network traffic. The cloud now makes it possible, largely by virtualizing physical servers that can scale rapidly to meet customers’ changing demands, according to David Christophersen, managing director at Capital American.

“AT&T, ClearPath and Nokia are embracing software-defined networking and server virtualization for a number of business and technical reasons. Legacy routing equipment is expensive to maintain and does not scale dynamically in the world of cloud computing,” he told LinuxInsider.

“Routing equipment is one of the few remaining areas within the data center that has not been virtualized. Cloud companies looking to compete with Amazon Web Services are seeking specialized niches that can help differentiate their platforms, and the network layer is still up for grabs,” said Christophersen.

Growing Pathway

OpenDaylight technology is showing signs of strong and continued adoption, according to the ODL Project, which released results of its first user survey at this week’s OpenDaylight Summit.

Adoption is closely aligned with open source SDN solutions. For example, some 75 percent of OpenDaylight users polled planned to use the open source SDN technology for network functions virtualization. More than half were considering ODL for cloud orchestration.

Of the 128 respondents to the survey, 31 percent were service providers, 24 percent came from research and academia, and 20 percent from enterprises.

Survey Says

Of those respondents, 73 percent have already deployed or plan to deploy OpenDaylight in the next 12 months. Of those not yet making that claim, 24 percent are considering the switch.

Some 72 percent of the respondents said they used OpenDaylight code in NFV deployments. Meanwhile, 54 percent of the respondents — including some users of OpenStack — said they used it for cloud orchestration.

Forty-seven percent of the respondents reported using it for traffic engineering and QoS, while 41 percent said they used it for network monitoring and analytics.

Tech Primer

SDN provides an alternative to the static architecture of conventional networks, which are ill-suited to the dynamic computing and storage needs of today’s users.

“Software-defined networking is based on the premise that commodity server hardware, running on an open source platform like OpenDaylight, will be more flexible and scalable — not to mention more easily integrated into cloud environments. The cost savings will be significant,” Capital American’s Christophersen said.

SDN architecture decouples the network control and forwarding functions, so admins can directly control it. They can abstract the underlying infrastructure for applications and network services.

Jack M. Germain has been writing about computer technology since the early days of the Apple II and the PC. He still has his original IBM PC-Jr and a few other legacy DOS and Windows boxes. He left shareware programs behind for the open source world of the Linux desktop. He runs several versions of Windows and Linux OSes and often cannot decide whether to grab his tablet, netbook or Android smartphone instead of using his desktop or laptop gear. You can connect with him onGoogle+.

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