While software-defined networking (SDN) and open source have opened a world of possibilities for the networking world, they also have left many professionals paralyzed at a decision-making crossroads. SDN options cover such a dizzying range of architectures and approaches that even the most basic buying decisions can feel weighted with far-reaching implications.
In this on-demand video from Brocade, “Understanding and Deploying SDN Using Open Source,” Forrester Research Principal Analyst Andre Kindness helps IT professionals frame their decision-making process by taking a close look at the benefits and drawbacks of open source software (OSS) versus vendor-created solutions for SDN. Kindness uses the analogy of three doors for the main types of SDN options: vendor-created solutions, OSS solutions, and OSS wrapped in a commercial offering.
The vendor-created solutions on one end of the SDN spectrum run the gamut of approaches, Kindness says, but they are all fundamentally proprietary systems with open interfaces. He calls these “black box solutions.”
On the other end of the spectrum are pure open source solutions based on options such as OpenFlow, Linux, and OpenDaylight. While many people in the networking world remain skeptical of open source in networking, the open source community has been on the leading edge of SDN since its inception, and it’s becoming increasingly hard to find an enterprise software platform that doesn’t have some element of open source in it.
Kindness focuses a large portion of his presentation looking at what open source brings to the table for networkers, as well as the challenges and risks of OSS adoption. On one hand, nothing beats open source for speed, agility, and innovation. On the other, the reality of implementing OSS in an organization raises unavoidable legal and policy issues that organizations must be prepared to deal with.
To get the benefits of open source without the practical headaches that come with managing an open source system, Kindness recommends the third door: open source solutions wrapped in a commercial offering. The hybrid approach not only combines the freedom of open source with the security of back-end vendor support – it also leaves the door open for organizations to choose a different path down the line.
Watch the presentation to better understand your SDN options. The video also includes a short highlight of Brocade’s Vyatta Controller, an open source SDN Controller based on the OpenDaylight Project under Linux.