Open vSwitch (OVS) Becomes a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project

Four years after becoming part of the mainstream Linux kernel, virtual switch effort opens up further.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Aug 9, 2016
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The Open vSwitch (OVS) open-source networking effort is officially joining the Linux Foundation's Collaborative Project roster today.

While OVS is new as a Linux Foundation project, it's no stranger to Linux. OVS first became part of Linux in 2012 with the debut of the Linux 3.3 kernel release.

As to why OVS is now becoming a Linux Foundation project, it all has to do with community. To date, VMware has been the leading contributor of OVS, though other multiple vendors do contribute and the governance model is open.OVS

"Moving to the Linux Foundation makes it really clear that OVS is a community project," Ben Pfaff, VMware Principal Engineer and OVS Leader, told Enterprise Networking Planet.

Additionally Pfaff noted that with the move, OVS will now benefit from ancillary services provided by the Linux Foundation, including conference event management.

While the move to the Linux Foundation is about being open, Pfaff noted that OVS has been increasingly open in recent years already. In 2012, when OVS first entered the Linux kernel, 90 percent of code commits came from VMware. Pfaff expects that by the end of 2016, more than half of the code contributions for OVS will come from sources outside of VMware.

VMware engineer Justin Pettit explained that today there are approximately a dozen core committers to OVS. In terms of how OVS code gets pulled into the mainline upstream Linux kernel, Pettit said that approximately every six months, code gets pulled up by kernel developer David Miller, who then puts in his Git push for kernel merges done by Linus Torvalds.

While changes to OVS are pushed to the mainline upstream kernel, Pettit noted that OVS also has an "out-of-tree" kernel module model. As such, new features in OVS that might land in a new Linux kernel are also available to run in older Linux kernels supported and run by various Linux distributions.

With the move to the Linux Foundation, neither Pettit nor Pfaff expect any changes in the development model or engineering process for OVS. There will be some form of executive board, but Praff emphasized that the purpose of the board will be determine how funds are spent, and not on any technical decisions.

OVS is a critically important part of the modern open-source networking landscape, often serving as the base layer for NFV, SDN and container networking platforms. Moving forward, Pfaff is looking to continuing to improve performance and compatability with different platforms, including Microsoft's Hyper-V.

The OVS project is currently in the process of branching for its next major release, OVS 2.6, set to debut in early October. Praff said that the big new milestone for OVS 2.6 will be a stable implementation of the OVN (Open Virtual Network) technology, providing layer 2 and layer 3 virtual networking for OVS.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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