Open vSwitch was originally created by the team at Nicira, that was later acquired by VMware. The open source virtual switch supports standard management interfaces and protocols. OVS is critical to many SDN deployments in data centers because it ties together all the virtual machines within a hypervisor instance on a server.
“There’s been this perception that it was VMware run,” says Justin Pettit, senior staff at VMware and a core contributor of OVS. “That reality has never been true.”
VMware has about 12 employees working on OVS full time, the largest number of any organization working on the project. But core contributors from other companies are also controlling its technical direction.
“This [becoming part of Linux] doesn’t change the way OVS is run,” says Pettit. “It’s never been a VMware project. This does make it clear.”
In addition to clarifying that OVS is not run by VMware, the project will now receive administrative and infrastructure help from the Linux Foundation for things such as mailing lists, website maintenance, and organization of its yearly OVS conference.
OVS is widely used by companies using OpenStack to do programmable forwarding of their packets. But Pettit says its popularity is difficult to know. “We don’t have any way of tracking, but based on posts to the mailing list, it’s extremely popular,” he says.
The Layer-2 Linux bridge is a switching option already built into Linux. But today’s announcement says, “While the Linux bridge addresses many common networking tasks, Open vSwitch was created with a robust set of features and a high performance design to address the rapidly growing needs of SDN and virtual networking use cases.”