Linux Foundation Launches Major Open Source SDN Project

Michael Vizard

The Linux Foundation, with the backing of no less than 10 major IT vendors, is getting ready to turn the emerging software-defined networking (SDN) market on its head.

The consortium that is best known for pushing the adoption of Linux today announced that it is working on an open source SDN controller, called the OpenDaylight Project, that will give free access to core SDN technology to IT organizations and vendors alike.

The leading backers of the project range from emerging SDN vendors such as Big Switch Networks to a host of well-established IT vendors that include Brocade, Cisco, Citrix, IBM, Juniper Networks, Microsoft, NEC, Red Hat and VMware.

Initial contributions to the project include: SDN software from Big Switch; network fabric management software from Arista Networks; Ethernet fabric technology from Brocade; network controller technology from Cisco; application controller technology from Citrix; network virtualization technology from IBM; client and server protocols from Juniper Networks; virtual networking technology from NEC; virtual services deployment technology from PLUMgrid; and OpenStack integration software from Red Hat.

The SDN controller will come with a set of northbound application programming interfaces that can be invoked by any IT management application. That approach will have significant implications for dedicated SDN applications that have been coming to market on a regular basis over the last several months. Many of those applications may prove to be unnecessary should IT organizations deploy an open source SDN controller that can be invoked via existing IT management applications.

Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin stressed that the Open Daylight Project is not intended to be a standards organization, but the consortium will submit technologies it develops for standards ratification. Similar in nature to the OpenFlow and OpenStack projects, Zemlin says the goal for the Open Daylight Project is to accelerate the bringing to market a set of technologies that every major vendor would otherwise have to develop on their own.

Rather than compete everywhere, it’s becoming clear that vendors are coming to terms with the idea that there are certain classes of core technologies that they are all going to need to develop as part of the much larger drive to build programmable data centers. Rather than waste time and resources inventing the same basic IT wheels, vendors are combining their expertise as part of a concerted effort to bring next-generation networking technologies to market faster. Competition going forward will then focus on how well each of the vendors implements these technologies.



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