The OpenDaylight Project has announced Boron, the fifth release of the open source SDN controller software. The project, which is run under the auspices of the Linux Foundation, trumpets significant contributions from telcos and service providers in the latest release.
Boron contributors include AT&T, Telefonica, China Mobile, and Comcast. Their contributions, while not especially flashy, enhance the stability and maturity of the software.
One example is Cardinal, a project within ODL that exposes the health of the controller (for instance, memory and CPU utilization, queue depth, and other statistics) to network management systems. The first phase of the project has developed an SNMP MIB for the controller.
Other contributions include YangIDE, a design studio developed by AT&T which supports the development of YANG models; NetIDE, developed by Telefonica and Intel, which aims to make it more simple to share apps across controllers; and EMAN, an energy efficiency initiative from Comcast.
In addition, the Boron release improves controller failover capabilities, and has enhanced its integration with OpenStack Neutron, the networking component of the OpenStack project.
What About The Enterprise?
OpenDaylight (ODL) touts telco and service provider contributions as a sign of the project’s strong foundation. That may be true, but what about enterprise uptake?
ODL spokespeople wouldn’t provide specific numbers on production deployments, though they did note that user survey results would be shared at the OpenDaylight Summit at the end of September.
To really draw enterprise customers, ODL has had to “…reach a point of relative commercial maturity, which is where I think now,” said Lisa Caywood, Director of Ecosystem Development for OpenDaylight.
“It started with telcos because they are under immediate pressure to upgrade and modernize networks,” she said. “It’s increasingly moving into the enterprise.”
She noted that enterprises typically want pre-packaged solutions, and that VARs and system integrators are now looking at OpenDaylight. They can see opportunities to build offerings and services based on ODL and bring them to enterprise customers.
OpenDaylight And Orchestration
The OpenDaylight project was born at a time of great hype around SDN as a transformative innovation in the network. In subsequent years, the technology discussion has shifted to a bigger-picture focus on a wholly virtualized data center, with orchestration as the cornerstone.
I asked about ODL’s role in this bigger picture.
“Broader orchestration will involve networking, so ODL gives you hooks to automate your network,” said Colin Dixon, OpenDaylight Technical Steering Committee Chair and Distinguished Engineer at Brocade.
But he also sees ODL as growing outside of its own boundaries. “You see people push ODL out of its element, like IoT, or smart cities, or controlling drones. It wouldn’t surprise me if ODL becomes a more general IT orchestration platform.”
My perception of the narrative coming out of OpenDaylight is as follows:
—Telcos and service providers, whose business is the network, found ways to wring immediate value from this open source project, and had the human resources (developers, operators, engineers) to deploy this open source platform into production.
—The ODL project believes that the controller is now poised to capture more of the enterprise market, thanks in good measure to telcos and service providers whose efforts have created a stable, mature product. These contributors have also helped attract a broader ecosystem of third parties who will use ODL as a base around which to build products and services that will entice enterprises.
The question now is to see whether this narrative aligns with the turbulent reality of the enterprise marketplace.