Dave Ward, CTO of engineering and chief architect at Cisco, says the OpenDaylight Project really propelled the Linux Foundation as the go-to host for open source projects related to network virtualization. But, he adds, people working in open source networking are now experiencing “foundation fatigue.”
“OpenDaylight fundamentally changed their [the Linux Foundation’s] world,” says Ward. “It’s been wildly successful. It’s the de facto standard open source SDN controller for the industry today.”
After its success with OpenDaylight, the Linux Foundation has won a list of new SDN and network functions virtualization (NFV) open source projects, including ONOS, OPNFV, Open-O, CORD, and Open vSwitch.
But Ward says participating in these groups can cost a vendor as much as $500,000 a pop, causing some to ask if it’s a “pay to play” kind of thing. “There is a bit of foundation fatigue,” he says. “They’re expensive.”
A question also comes up sometimes about whether big companies such as Cisco and Huawei wield too much power in these open source groups after they fork over the big bucks. In February, Ayush Sharma, CTO of IP with Huawei, told SDxCentral that around 40 Huawei employees in the U.S. are very active in open source groups. And that could grow to more than 150 Huawei people working on open source in Silicon Valley. This is in addition to 300-plus Huawei employees out of India and China who support open source programs.
Asked if Huawei’s systematic approach to open source groups might suggest the company is trying to dominate these groups, Sharma said, “That’s the perception we don’t want to create. Our intention is meritocracy based.”
Ward says the employees from different vendors working in open source networking are getting along swimmingly. “Conspiracy theories exist wildly out there, but down in the trenches where folks are actually coding, people are getting along very, very well,” he says.
Many open source coders have worked for a number of different companies. Rather than angling for their current employer, they’re more interested in “moving the industry forward to get to the interesting stuff at the application layer,” says Ward.
More Power for Linux?
Later this month, Ward will be giving a talk at the OpenDaylight Summit where he’ll discuss an “Open Networking Umbrella Architecture” in which open source projects align and fit into a unified strategy for enabling up-stack application development.
The idea is that the Linux Foundation could be an umbrella host, not only for the open source networking groups it already hosts, but other groups as well.
“We’ve open-sourced in CableLabs and other places,” Ward says. “We wanted to experiment with other foundations and governance techniques.” For example, he says the Fast Data Project (FD.io) is a low-cost Linux Foundation project that is a collection of several projects and libraries.
But he thinks the Linux Foundation may be the best organization to corral all these different groups. “It would be a way many people could find it easier to work with,” he says. “We could plan and project the resources. Linux has made it very easy to work with them.”