Needed: An Open SDN Platform: Page 2

Software defined networking vendors would do themselves and customers a favor if they focused on open interoperability.
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On a similar note, why do we have so many vSwitches in the world? When Nicira was locked out of the VMware ecosystem by a proprietary vSphere architecture, they built a great open vSwitch, which is appropriately called OVS. It is now at the heart of VMware’s NSX multi-hypervisor offering and is gaining tremendous mindshare. But the only way to use OVS with over 60 percent of the VMs in the world is to buy NSX, as VMware continues to cut out the open community from the vSphere party. I love VMware for so many reasons. I love vSphere, I love OVS and I love how they are investing in making vSphere a real choice in an OpenStack infrastructure. I call on VMware to give OVS equal status (kernel access) as vDS, and the proprietary vSwitches they’ve let Cisco, IBM and HP build. Be open. Let the next Niciras innovate.

I’m putting a spotlight on Cisco and VMware, but I challenge every vendor with a proprietary SDN controller to either clearly articulate why they have found a game-changing technology no one else has, or work with the open source community to improve the one we’ve got and make it core to their offering. “Open” isn’t just a word to dress-up product data sheets. Open represents a real set of attributes that really matter to end users. Interoperability isn’t easy, it’s hard.

We don’t need 30 SDN controllers in the world. They all do pretty much the same thing and customers don’t want to pay a dime for the controller. The value is in the network services, the hardware and the management layer. Not the controllers.

We are on the cusp of something big. Now is the time for vendors of networking technology to walk the walk. As an industry we sorely need a common SDN platform. I see a world where customers have a great range of technologies, built around a range of valid models, but that are all based on one common code base. I believe that newer technologies and approaches will need to co-exist with older technologies and protocols.

This is why we need an SDN platform with the ability to work with a wide range of protocols, not just OpenFlow, OVSDB or Netconf. I have yet to hear a compelling reason why this is not the right vision for the industry, just a lot of comments that it’s hard to pull off. No kidding. But the OpenDaylight community is well on the way to achieving this vision. We will achieve it if we continue to get more contributors and more people sharing opinions, but also if more people listen and change their opinions. Together we can change the world.

Neela Jacques is Executive Director at OpenDaylight Project

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Tags: open source, SDN, software defined networking

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