To help provide a reader perspective in this report, and to get a sense of where the SDxCentral audience believes the market is going, SDxCentral’s Research Team asked community members what they think about open-source technologies and what they are doing or planning on doing with. For the purposes of the survey, open-source networking solutions were defined as “any software platform that relates to networking, including L2 to L4 stacks, as well as projects that manage or orchestrate networking equipment.” There were 110 participants – 46% were “Technology Vendors,” 22% “Telecommunications Service Providers,” 15% “System Integrators,” 10% “Other,” and 6% “Enterprises.”
End User Open Source Implementations
When end users—cloud service providers, telecommunications service providers, enterprises, and others—were asked if they had already incorporated any open-source networking solutions, 40% said “yes.” Another 24% indicated they were currently testing/qualifying open source solutions. Only 10% said they had “no plans to incorporate” open source solutions into their network, at this time.
When probed on all the places they are deploying or plan to deploy open source solutions, the majority (64%) said in a private cloud. 40% said they were using or going to use open source in their mobile and WAN networks, while 38% said they are integrating or are looking to integrate open-source networking solutions in their public cloud environments.
Vendor and System Integrator Implementations
The survey asked technology vendors and system integrators (SIs) if they had incorporated any open-source networking projects into their products or solutions. 80% said “yes,” while 13% said they were currently testing/qualifying open source solutions. The 7% who haven’t incorporated open source are researching solutions, with plans to implement in the next year.
66% of the survey vendor/SI participants have deployed or are planning on deploying OpenStack solutions and networking projects (Neutron), 56% are deploying general SDN networking solutions (including controllers), while 54% are deploying network function virtualization solutions. The specific solutions include mentioned most were OpenDaylight, at 50%, OpenvSwitch, at 47%, and DPDK, at 46%.
Drivers for Open Source in Networking
The main reason end-user respondents said they are using or thinking about using open-source networking solutions is to reduce costs (71%). They felt “saving money by using a pre-built, validated codebase” was the primary business driver. Of those end-users who have already deployed open source solutions, 32% said they were seeing 25% – 50% savings over commercial solutions. A quarter of the respondents saw 25% savings, while another quarter said they really didn’t see a difference in total costs between open source and commercial solutions.
Other important reasons to adopt open source solutions, according to respondents, who could check all the answers they felt applied, were to “prevent vendor/product lock-in,” at 69%, ensure “interoperability with a common source-base,” at 60%, “velocity – accelerating time to market” at 57%, “reliability,” at 45%, and “feature richness,” at 33%. Interestingly, 33% also noted there was a compelling community effect associated with using open-source networking – participating in the open-source ecosystem can have recruiting and marketing benefits.
Technology vendors and system integrator respondents had a slightly different take on what they saw as the most important business drivers for using open source in their solutions. They indicated ensuring “interoperability with other systems” was the primary driver, at 65%, followed by “reducing deployment costs” at 63%, and “velocity – accelerating time-to-market,” at 62%. Interestingly, there is a marketing value for vendors/SIs too – 43% felt that the “open-source ecosystem makes customers feel more comfortable and helps project ‘open’ image.”
When probed on the cost savings vendors/SIs who have deployed open source solutions are seeing, 31% indicated it was between 25% and 50%. Another 31% noted it was less than 25%, and 23% found the costs were similar between open source solutions and the solutions they are developing in-house.
Barriers to Using Open Source
End-user participants were asked what they saw as the biggest challenges associated with adopting open-source networking solutions. 52% responded that “lack of in-house talent” was their biggest hurdle, while “lack of enterprise level support – no support” topped the list for 29% and “interoperability concerns with existing infrastructure” for 21%.
38% of vendors/SIs noted the “immaturity of the codebase or code-quality issues,” was the biggest barrier for them. Another 31% noted that “lack of control over roadmap and features” could make it hard for them to incorporate open-source networking in their solutions. Other challenges included “interoperability concerns,” at 24%, as well as “performance issues” and “lack of in-house talent,” at 22%.
Future State of Open Source in Networking
56% of all survey participants plan to expand their use of open-source networking in the next year – 45% of end-users and 68% of vendors/SIs. The percentage of respondents who are using open source, but don’t think they will expand their deployment is low, at only 14%. The percentage who are not using open source, but plan to is 26%.
When asked which use cases would be ideal for open networking solutions, based on their experience to date, SD-WAN and virtual CPE stood out. On the flip side, participants indicated they would still be hesitant to use open source for mission critical use cases.
Unsurprisingly, open source in networking is viewed favorably by our community, with a large percentage looking to expand their use of open-source projects in their network deployments over the course of the next year. This bodes well for all those open-source projects looking for new contributors and new end-users who can benefit from all the person-years of development already invested in those codebases.