The software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) is proving to be an extremely lucrative technology for many vendors. Business is booming and will continue to do so. One of the key reasons SD-WAN is so appealing is that it uses open source technologies.
The attraction of free technology is irresistible to even the largest enterprises. IT departments relish the prospect of breaking the cycle of “vendor lock-in,” freeing themselves from investing heavily in one company’s solution and engaging in an endless cycling of purchasing the latest and greatest iterations of products. SD-WAN open source promises to significantly reduce total cost of ownership. Another aspect of SD-WAN open source is that, like all open source solutions, is community-based, and defined as standards by the prevailing standards bodies.
SD-WAN Open Source
In the realm of SD-WAN open source — which encompasses software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), and network virtualization — consumers can benefit from a thriving SD-WAN open source community, the members of which are committed to the promotion and use of open standards. There are two major organizations that house open source projects under this umbrella of SD-WAN are the Linux Foundation and the Open Networking Foundation (ONF). There is considerable cooperation between the two on project management. The OpenDaylight Project and OPNFV are projects directly under the Linux Foundation. OpenDaylight focuses on SDN controllers and OPNFV focuses on NFV components. The ONF has several projects listed in their directory. They include Mininet (an SDN virtual testbed), ONOS (an SDN controller), The Open Transport Configuration & Control project (a standards project), and Stratum (an SDN switch OS). Major contributors to SD-WAN open source projects include AT&T, Google, Nokia, and Arm.
SD-WAN open-source solutions — or “DIY SD-WAN” — let businesses use existing network components and integrate new pieces through a flexible, modular architecture. Open source network virtualization platforms such as OpenContrail from Juniper Networks can give the business access to NFV capabilities, thereby abstracting the functions of the network from the physical hardware. Through the use of a generic, open-source SDN orchestrators such as Open-O, part of ONAP, or Open Source MANO, SD-WAN open-source lays down network connections in an overlay scenario, chaining virtual network functions (VNFs) to create a dynamic architecture. Standards such as Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) bring together the underlay components (e.g., routing). By combining these elements, an SD-WAN open source solution can simplify the setup, deployment, and management of even complex network topologies.
SD-WAN Open Source — At the Right Pace and Price
SD-WAN open source solutions offer an innovative approach to SD-WAN that allows the customer to enter the SD-WAN market at a lower price point — and at the pace they are comfortable with. The customer can gradually transform their network into the realm of automation and independence, enhanced application visibility, and distributed network services.
Updated April 2019