Announced in April 2013, the OpenDaylight Project (ODL), an open source SDN project hosted by the Linux Foundation, was created to advance software-defined networking (SDN) adoption and create the basis for a strong network functions virtualization (NFV). It was created as a community-led and industry-supported open source SDN framework. The aim of the OpenDaylight Project is to offer a functional SDN platform that gives users directly deployed SDN without the need for other components. In addition, contributors and vendors can deliver add-ons and other pieces that will offer more value to OpenDaylight.
Although the Linux Foundation hosts the OpenDaylight Project, it doesn’t only run on Linux platforms. It is licensed under the Eclipse Public License (EPL), often chosen for Java-based projects. Using EPL allows OpenDaylight to increase its compatibility with the expansive environment of libraries and third-party components that already have been released under the EPL license. The EPL is an approved open source license, and according to the Free Software Foundation, is a free software license.
In January of 2018, ODL’s governance is moved to be under the LF Networking Fund, which is a combined governance structure for multiple projects.
OpenDaylight (ODL) Technical Overview
The ODL software is built on the Java programming language. Its first code release, in February 2014, was “Hydrogen”. It constituted 15 projects, all siphoned off into three different editions. The Base Edition consisted of the OpenDaylight Controller (an SDN Controller) and simple functionally to test it — in a nutshell, it’s what everyone needs to use OpenDaylight.
Since the Hydrogen release, the open source community developed eight more code releases. The most recent code release is Fluorine and it focuses on managed releases. According to the ODL, “with Fluorine and beyond, users and solution providers will receive the mature core components of the OpenDaylight platform as a single download, while still benefitting from the unique freedom and flexibility of OpenDaylight’s modular platform.” Fluorine use cases include IP Transport, the capability for optical transport via the Transport PCE, cloud and edge computing, and service function chaining (SFC) for network slicing.
The Fluorine release follows shortly after the release of Oxygen code, which was released a mere six months prior to Fluorine. Oxygen features a P4 plugin for data plane abstraction and a Kubernetes plug-in for container-based workloads support.
OpenDaylight Members and Committees
Founding members included Arista Networks, Big Switch Networks, Brocade (its product now owned and operated by Lumina Networks), Cisco, Citrix, Ericsson, HP, IBM, Juniper Networks, Microsoft, NEC, Nuage Networks, PLUMGrid, Red Hat, and VMware. (Note: Juniper, Microsoft, and VMware left ODL in 2015). Initial members donated the resources necessary to help create an open source network of groups focused on moving the SDN platform forward. Membership in the OpenDaylight Project now consists of three tiers — Platinum, Gold, and Silver — that all offer different amounts of contribution. Platinum members must commit 10 developers to the project, with only three developers from Gold members.
Despite its founding members, OpenDaylight doesn’t have a single company or group of companies that “lead” the project. Instead, it operates through an open, active community that is available for anyone to join. The requirement for joining is to contribute to the openness of the community, therefore, those who join offer assistance in a variety of areas — from coding to Board of Director’s leadership. The latter manages the business aspect of the OpenDaylight, including marketing and operational decisions. There is no monetary requirement to be a part of the OpenDaylight Project.
The Technical Steering Committee (TSC) handles oversight of design and development activities of the OpenDaylight Project. The TSC is also in charge of release dates, release quality standards, technical best practices, monitoring technical progress, meditating technical conflicts between contributors and project leads, as well as managing inter-project collaboration. Anyone who can develop and contribute code can be elected to the TSC, and subsequently voted onto the Board. This allows for contributors with a vision to make their mark on the OpenDaylight Project.
OpenDaylight utilizes the open standards that are currently in place, thanks to working with leaders like the Open Networking Foundation (ONF). OpenFlow is a primary example of an SDN protocol supported by OpenDaylight, and as new products are created in the future, the OpenDaylight Project will undertake those standards as well. There is a common understanding within the industry that while OpenFlow is beneficial in several scenarios, SDN is not only OpenFlow or any other single protocol. Therefore, the OpenDaylight Project is intended to configure several SDN interfaces, including, but not limited to, OpenFlow.