As 2015 arrives, OpenDaylight continues to gather support from vendors and mature into a viable open source software project, with a controller capable of competing with its counterparts from Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure and VMware NSX. The latter two initiatives, coming from two of the biggest incumbents in networking and virtualization, have naturally attracted much of the attention around SDN and NFV orchestration so far. However, OpenDaylight had a big year in 2014 and the outlook is good for 2015.
Brocade Vyatta highlights the rapid evolution of OpenDaylight
There were two releases of OpenDaylight in 2014: Hydrogen in February, followed by Helium in September. The first version was essentially an attempt to get something to market, following nearly a year of collaboration between the proprietary vendors that make up most of OpenDaylight's membership. Helium brought a much-needed focus on security by introducing the Secure Network Bootstrapping Infrastructure and Access, Authorization and Accounting features.
This progress in the project hasn't been for its own sake. Rather, it has supported the development of commercial products such as the Vyatta Controller from Brocade. Vyatta is built on top of OpenDaylight and is implemented entirely in software that can be run on any commodity hardware. In this respect, it differs from Cisco's Application Policy Infrastructure Controller for ACI, which to date is supported only via a C200 rack mount server with a particular chipset.
With x86 hardware and their Linux distributions of choice, service providers can utilize Vyatta for network orchestration and automation of resource provisioning in their OpenStack implementations. Back in June, TechTarget's Shamus McGillicuddy looked at the emergence of the Vyatta Platform, with its inclusion of OpenDaylight and OpenStack components, and how it could provide:
"We're offering a platform, rather than a product," Kelly Herrell, Vice President and General Manager for Brocade's software networking business department, told TechTarget at the time. "An integrated set of software components that together give you what you are looking for, both in terms of services and management."
Intel joins Brocade, Cisco and others as platinum member of OpenDaylight
Brocade is already a Platinum Member of OpenDaylight. Intel recently joined the same ranks, making it a top-tier contributor to OpenDaylight, OpenStack and OpenNFV. There are now 11 Platinum Members in OpenDaylight, each contributing $500,000 a year and having the right to place representatives on the board as well as the project's Technical Steering Committee.
What's behind Intel's rising interest in OpenDaylight? More than anything, the company is looking to provide the silicon that powers a whole host of emerging networking standards, while ensuring the evolution of the x86 platform. Moreover, in the long run, its move up the ranks of OpenDaylight is probably representative of intent to work more on the design of white box switches and servers that support SDN and NFV connectivity.
Intel's stated reasons for its investment in OpenDaylight are standard fare for the industry, in that it has cited the need for infrastructure automation as a replacement for costly, time-consuming manual provisioning of resources. The way it's approaching the issue is notable, though, since its input across virtually all the major open source networking projects means that it can prioritize integration and interaction between different technologies.
The OpenDaylight controller, in that respect, is another part of the stack that Intel can optimize for service agility. Controllers in general have become a point of focus for vendors and standards body in recent months, with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, realizing that the controller is essential to building scalable services. Likewise, for large vendors, it is a building block for the software-defined data center.
"The SDN controller is a key component in Intel's Software Defined Infrastructure reference architecture," observed Uri Elzur, SDN system architecture director at Intel. "By playing a larger role in a community of like-minded industry leaders through OpenDaylight, we aim to advance the capabilities, deployment, automation and agility of SDI for the benefit of our customers."
Looking ahead to 2015, we can expect the Lithium release of OpenDaylight as the project makes it way through the periodic table of elements. It should arrive sometime in the late winter or early spring. We can expect standardization around components such as OpenFlow, as well as additional Layer 4-7 capabilities that didn't make it into the Helium release.
The takeaway: OpenDaylight, founded in 2013, had a big year in 2014 and looks strong going into 2015. Vendors like Brocade have built commercial products on top of the open source software project, while Intel has become more invested in its success, seeing the OpenDaylight controller as a pivotal part of the networking solution stack of the future.