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AT&T, others launch OpenDaylight SDN alternative

Jim Duffy | Nov. 5, 2014
ON.Lab making its own open source SDN operating system available.

IDC analyst Brad Casemore

ONOS is essentially an SDN controller with northbound interfaces to application policy engines and orchestration systems, and southbound interfaces to networking devices themselves. OpenFlow and NETCONF are two of the multiple southbound protocols supported by ONOS.

The application policy framework in ONOS will be similar to the Group-based Policy Model adopted by OpenDaylight and conceived by Cisco, Parulkar says, but not identical. Indeed, the southbound policy protocol in ONOS will also be different from the OpFlex protocol conceived by Cisco which is expected to emerge in OpenDaylight's upcoming "Lithium" release.

"OpFlex is not the right abstraction because it exposes the specifics of the devices to the applications," Parulkar says, meaning it introduces less abstraction and more complexity than is required.

ONF was highly suspicious of OpFlex when Cisco announced the protocol.

The ONOS Application Intent Framework will employ both imperative and declarative techniques to express and enforce intent, at the flow set up and application intent layers, respectively, Parulkar says. This is in contrast to Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure model with OpFlex, which is a fully declarative construct and upon which the OpenDaylight GBP is based.

AT&T has a highly visible SDN and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) project underway called Domain 2.0. Many of the use cases for ONOS were conceived by AT&T, On.Lab officials say, adding they expect AT&T to adopt ONOS as a component of Domain 2.0

AT&T, which is investing $1 million per year for five years in ONOS, is optimistic but keeping its plans close to the vest.

"While it's too soon to tell, ON.Lab is working on some impressive applications that we see complementing work done by other organizations, such as OpenDaylight," AT&T said through a spokesperson. "Ultimately we're really looking at anything that moves the industry forward, particularly in open source."

OpenDaylight seems eager to dissect ONOS and participate in its development.

"We're excited to see what new technologies and approaches Stanford has come up with in ONOS that can be leveraged," says Neela Jacques, OpenDaylight executive director. "The OpenDaylight developer community is always keen to see more code. We hope to see collaboration between the developers to bring new learnings and research into ODL so we can continue down the path of uniting the industry around an open, common codebase. We're also very interested in seeing ONOS build mechanisms for people to participate, contribute and utilize their codebase.

"The goal of ODL remains to drive adoption of SDN by overcoming fragmentation in the industry," Jacques says. "What we're seeing is people building a wide variety of products based on ODL that the industry can leverage. We'll see that trend continue in 2015."


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