It’s hard to remember that Intel wasn’t always a household name. When I began covering semiconductors for the San Jose Business Journal in 1994, I didn’t even know who Intel was.
That’s what made “Intel Inside” such a radical campaign — and a little inexplicable — when it launched in the 90s. It was strange to think that someone could brand the innards of a PC and make people care.
Now, the OpenDaylight Project has reached that point. One news highlight of the group’s annual summit, held this week in Seattle, was the creation of a “Powered by OpenDaylight” certification, a badge of honor for technologies that are built off the open source project and that pass certain technical standards.
In a prepared statement, OpenDaylight Executive Director Neela Jacques calls it a “turning point representing OpenDaylight’s emergence as an industry-wide de facto standard.” And I don’t think he’s exaggerating.
Since OpenDaylight debuted in 2013, plenty of other open source networking projects have emerged. Maybe too many; we journalists complain about it all the time. And at least one, ONOS, can even be considered an OpenDaylight competitor.
But OpenDaylight was there first. This was the project that dragged the Linux Foundation into all this “open networking” stuff in the first place, and it’s had enough time to get settled in.
Maybe more importantly, OpenDaylight proved that a project inside the contentious, Cisco-dominated networking world could truly be open.
In some quarters, SDN was still assumed to be Cisco’s natural enemy, so the thought of Cisco starting an “SDN” project raised some eyebrows.
This was different from other industrywide efforts like OpenStack. It wasn’t hard to build a case that OpenDaylight could be a vehicle to push Cisco and IBM’s agenda.
OpenDaylight responded by becoming as open as possible. Weekly conference calls were public, and anybody was welcome to submit code. Jacques, formerly of VMware, was hired as executive director.
Nowadays, OpenDaylight plays from a position of strength. Jacques spent much of 2014 explaining or defending OpenDaylight’s existence. His keynote at the Open Networking Summit in 2015 had a different tone: The open, collaborative approach is working in networking, and it’s working exactly the way we said it would.
I think this was driven by a few factors. Given the uncertainty around SDN at the time, vendors were probably happy to use the organization as a compass. There was also a domino effect. As more vendors piled into OpenDaylight, others might have joined as a defensive move. (Note that anybody was welcome to participate, whether they were a member or not.)
Having OpenDaylight grow up as a Linux Foundation project certainly helped in gaining the industry’s trust.
And the Linux Foundation has benefitted too. It’s taken on other networking projects including ONOS (although there, the terms are very different from OpenDaylight’s).
And OpenDaylight has helped the Foundation expand its reach beyond North America, specifically into China. Alibaba and Tencent have joined OpenDaylight, and this week, the project announced that China Mobile has joined as well, as a Silver-level sponsor.