OpenStack Tokyo: The Ascendance of Cloud Networking

TOKYO – Networking has always been a part of the open source OpenStack cloud platform, but it has never been more popular, or as exciting as it is now. At the OpenStack Summit in Tokyo, one of the hottest topics is networking, as organizations of all sizes turn to the cloud for Software Defined Networking and Network Functions Virtualization capabilities.

During the Wednesday morning keynotes, Mark Collier, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the OpenStack Foundation, asked the audience if they knew what the most active project was during the recent OpenStack Liberty release cycle. The answer, which surprised some, is the Neutron networking project. The ascendance of networking to the position of most active project has been a long road for Neutron and a journey along which it has displaced the Nova compute project for the top spot.

The original location of networking inside of OpenStack was actually inside Nova, with the Nova-network drivers. In 2011, a group of developers from VMware, Cisco and elsewhere helped to start the OpenStack Quantum project. In July of 2013, the Quantum project was renamed as Neutron.

For much of Neutron’s early life, there were vendors that argued that it wasn’t what customers wanted. Among them was Nebula, a company founded by OpenStack co-founder Chris Kemp. Nebula is no longer in business, and Neutron’s fortunes have gone the other way.

“Neutron is the most active project in the history of OpenStack,” Collier said. “It’s a great sign that there is investment from many organizations into Neutron.”

In a 2014 OpenStack User Survey, Collier noted that 68 percent of respondents reported that they were running Neutron in product. For the new 2015 user survey, Collier said that 89 percent of organizations running OpenStack are now running Neutron in production.

“That’s pretty incredible in just one year,” Collier said. “I think you’ll finally agree that Neutron has taken the quantum leap.”

“The time is now for networking to have its day,” Collier added.

According to statistics cited by Collier, the SDN market is now growing twice as fast as server virtualization. Additionally, the market is ripe for disruption, especially for NFV, which can have a huge impact on carrier networks. Collier noted that in the old model, lots of proprietary hardware and software was required to deploy new services. With NFV, it’s possible for carriers to be more agile and deploy new services quicker.

Collier cited ACG Research statistics that indicated that when telcos embrace NFV, they are able to reduce capital expenditures by 68 percent and operational expenditures by 67 percent ACG. NFV can reduce the timeline for telcos to introduce new services from 15 months to just 6 months.

“The top five networking vendors in the world are working on OpenStack, so it’s the fundamental component for going after SDN and NFV,” Collier said.

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

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