Since the announcement of the OpenDaylight Project in April there’s been a lot of kerfuffle on the wires. Why is OpenDaylight a vendor-led initiative? Is it going to slow down SDN? Is it an insidious plot to squelch SDN startups?
It’s time we all take a step back and view OpenDaylight for what it is: A good example of the disruptive new era in networking where speed of development blows past the historic plodding progress of a single-vendor model.
Speed Definition #1: Innovation Across Multiple Vendors
One question I’ve received about OpenDaylight is why vendors and not customers initiated it. Turn the perspective around – when was the last time a large number of established networking vendors initiated a massive open software development project? Never. So why did it happen now? Simply because the purview of SDN covers the full range of networking, with the promise of providing programmability on network traffic from storage, switching, routing, security, load balancing, etc.
The simple fact is the industry needs an SDN controller with that macro view of the infrastructure, and no single vendor would ever be able to produce a solution that was vendor-neutral. For that reason a large group came together, committed large dollars and resources to kick it off, and willingly formed the project. Kerfuffle ignited? Certainly. New era entered? Absolutely. A single controller that can program to a wide range of infrastructure will, by definition, speed the adoption of SDN.
Speed Definition #2: Code Velocity
This new era also includes something we’ve never seen before in networking: development speed. (I wrote about this in detail here.)
Remember, OpenDaylight is a software development project and history has demonstrated the speed of advancement that can come from the global collaboration of an open-source project. The contributors are a large and constantly evolving group, focusing on the most-needed areas of the project. Open source also means a superlative peer review process where design inefficiencies and errors are quickly highlighted, discussed and fixed.
Some have expressed concern that OpenDaylight will slow down SDN innovation. Here’s the contrary view: In the next 12 months alone, the starting code base for OpenDaylight will have been advanced by 100 developer-years. And that’s only counting the developers committed by vendor members. Add in the fact that the project is housed under the Linux Foundation and is open to any and all developers, and the 100 developer-years is an understatement.
The simple fact is that development speed and openness are fraternal twins. And yes, innovation will prosper in this new era, even among startups.
The genie’s out of the bottle and not going back in. Openness is required, it’s happening… and it’s fast.
Speed freaks unite.