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With its first SDN release, OpenDaylight is just out of the starting gate

Stephen Lawson | Feb. 6, 2014
The OpenDaylight SDN project released its first code and drew a sellout crowd to a conference this week, but it will take more than that before the effort can be declared a success.

On Tuesday, Inocybe Technologies, a small SDN vendor based in Quebec, Canada, also introduced an SDN controller based on Hydrogen.

The quick development of Hydrogen is impressive, said Roy Chua, a partner at consultancy Wiretap Ventures. "This was actually quite well done," Chua said.

But the project still has a long way to go, Chua and others said.

"That's just the beginning," said Nick Lippis, a longtime networking analyst and founder of the Open Networking User Group, in an interview at the event. It's great that OpenDaylight was able to produce its first release so quickly, but it won't be a true success until its code is widely deployed in enterprise and service-provider networks and many developers have built products on top of it, Lippis said. As with Linux, that kind of broad ecosystem could generate a lot of value and create a whole new economy in networking. But it might take seven years to build it, he said.

As powerful networking vendors, Cisco and IBM could both help OpenDaylight and hold it back, Lippis said. By including support for OpenDaylight in its products, Cisco, especially, would be a powerful engine to proliferate the project's technology. But suspicions about the big vendors' roles might keep some would-be participants away, he said. Only time will tell how that evolves, though for now, there's nothing amiss, Lippis said: Access to the project is as fair and open as promised.

The next big challenge will be to get more users involved, said Srini Seetharaman, a senior research scientist for SDN at Deutsche Telekom. Most of the people actually involved in OpenDaylight's activities work for vendors, he said, though he added that the same is true of the Open Networking Foundation, which had Google, Facebook and Yahoo among its founders. Deutsche Telekom isn't a member of OpenDaylight, but Seetharaman participates in the project as part of DT's forward-looking Innovation Center and out of a personal interest in SDN.

Even OpenDaylight's big backers say there is heavy lifting to come. For one thing, carriers demand standards for interoperability, so service providers will need common interfaces so SDN products from different sources will work together, Ericsson's McCullough said. "There's got to be a standardization process," he said.

Parts of the OpenDaylight code itself are missing or fall short, according to Vijoy Pandey, IBM's CTO of network OS. The biggest problem to start with will be synchronizing OpenDaylight-based products with the project's latest code base, he said. In fact, IBM is still catching up to Hydrogen with the SDN product it announced on Tuesday, Pandey said.

In addition, the user experience in terms of deploying and upgrading OpenDaylight's SDN doesn't meet users' expectations yet, he said. "There's a lot of work that needs to be done to make that product-worthy," Pandey said.


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