Is the Future of OpenDaylight about Applications?

NEW ORLEANS. The open source OpenDaylight Project is ramping up for its first major release, currently scheduled for later this year, and questions abound about what it will include.

In an hourlong panel session at the OpenDaylight summit, co-located with the Linuxcon conference, the leaders of theOpenDaylight OpenDaylight effort explained the project and responded to myriad questions. OpenDaylight was first officially announced in April of this year as a multi-stakeholder effort to build open source SDN infrastructure.

Red Hat developer Chris Wright explained that Software Defined Networking (SDN) is really all about how quickly you can scale up virtual networking. Whether that virtual networking relies on OpenFlow or some other encapsulation format is just an implementation detail. Wright commented that what SDN needs is a system that can manage relevant infrastructure.

“Our interest is in building up intelligence in edge switches and then managing it from a central controller,” Wright said.

Brocade’s David Meyer, chairman of the OpenDaylight Project Technical Steering Committee (TSC), said that for him, the ability to evolve and scale is key. Meyer also took aim at the use of the word “virtualization” as it relates to SDN.

“I don’t like the use of the term virtualization – it’s just networking and it’s just a layer,” Meyer said. “What isn’t virtualized? Network programmability is what we’re after here.”

Hardware vs software

One of the questions the panel answered was about was what features hardware vendors should include in networking silicon. James Bottomley, CTO of server virtualisation at Parallels, said that it sends shivers down his spine when network vendors want to differentiate at the hardware layer.

“For me, my product needs to work on commodity hardware, so any features you put on your switch that aren’t commodity, I can’t use,” Bottomley said. “I’m fine with adding features, but only if they are standardized.”


Kyle Mestery, principal engineer at Cisco, said that with the current generation of SDN controllers, they all look like a network person designed them.

He added that this is just the first generation of controllers. Within the next five years, he said, the application people will need to provide input into controllers.

“We need to start thinking in terms of applications,” Mestery said. “But clearly we have a lot of work to do.”

Chiradeep Vittal, principal architect in the Cloud Platforms Group at Citrix Systems, also wants more focus on applications.

“Either hide the complexity or push problems to the application writer,” Vittal said. “I’m hoping that OpenDaylight will solve problems for application writers.”


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

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