OpenDaylight: Open-source SDN is growing fast

OpenDaylight: Open-source SDN is growing fast

Summary: With OpenDaylight software-defined networking, rivals and users are united by open source to create software-defined networking for everyone. Believe it or not, the group's already made great progress and more is in store.


When OpenDaylight first appeared, it was assumed by naysayers that this open-source, software-defined network (SDN) project would prove to be little more than a cheering section for Cisco's SDN take. But that isn't how it's worked out.

Many major companies are already supporting OpenDaylight SDN and more will be joining shortly.

OpenDaylight is meant to define a common industry-supported framework for SDN. The group appears to be well on its way. When OpenDaylight was first proposed, Inder Gopal, IBM's Vice President for Networking Development, said that the project should be judged by its actions not its words in two years. And that, "We will not be driven by large vendors agendas and that we will be transparent and open." It's not even been a year yet, but so far, so good.

At the first Linux Foundation-sponsored OpenDaylight Summit in Santa Clara, CA it was clear that the over-capacity gathering of 600 or so attendees from companies both tiny and large were there to turn OpenDaylight into a true open-source project. As Anees Shaikh, formerly the leader of an IBM research group devoted to SDN and now a Google network architect, said in his speech that OpenDaylight would be judged by how well it delivers on code, industry and end-user adoption, and its community. Rather than deal with generalities, Shaikh dove straight into numbers, and by the numbers, OpenDaylight is impressive.

When OpenDaylight started, it only had two open-source projects. Now, it has sixteen. By Ohloh's count, the Black Duck Software site that tracks open-source program development, OpenDaylight now has more than a million lines of code. 461-thousand lines of that code are in Java, with C++ in second place with 292-thousand lines.

OpenDaylight also boasts over 154 developers. "This is one of the largest open-source teams in the world, and is in the top 2 percent of all project teams on Ohloh."  This compares favorably, Shaikh noted, to far older, popular projects such as Openstack with its 1.67-million lines of code and 1,974 contributors; Apache CloudStack with 1.5-million lines of code and 250 contributors, and Eclipse with its 2.67-million lines of code and 404 developers. OpenDaylight's also much larger than some other open-source SDN projects such as Apache and Big Switch's Floodlight OpenFlow controller with its 97-thouand lines of code and 32 contributors. It's comparable to Juniper's Contrail Virtual Router and Contrail Controller with its combined 280-thousand lines of code and 69 developers.

The group's membership now numbers thirty-three companies. And, while you might guess that its main members would all be networking companies, you'd be wrong. Software companies, who are betting their future on the cloud such as Microsoft and Red Hat, are also heavily invested in OpenDaylight.

Looking ahead, Shaikh said that OpenDaylight has been talking to major datacenter user companies such as Google and Facebook. He hinted that while they're taking a wait and see attitude now, he expects one of them to soon join the project as it matures. It's worth noting that Shaikh recently joined Google. 

Companies are also starting to ship OpenDaylight products. Cisco, of course, was first with its XNC OpenDaylight controller and IBM will ship its Software Defined Network for Virtual Environments, this quarter. Radware also announced its Defense4All Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) detection and mitigation program as a native OpenDaylight SDN Controller service.

 With Ericsson launching a new lab at its San Jose campus for OpenDaylight members to integrate, test and verify their applications, new OpenDaylight programs will soon be arriving. "Network programmability and interoperability are two key goals of the OpenDaylight Project," said Neela Jacques, OpenDaylight's Executive Director in a statement. "It is great to see Ericsson devoting significant resources to support the integration and testing of SDN and NFV innovations and applications coming out of the community."

Even before its initial release, Hydrogen, is being used by organizations such as the University of Kentucky, Taiwanese researcher ITRI, and CableLabs, a cable company research consortium. The last is exploring the use of OpenDaylight to manage an ISP's cable modems without needing to rip and replace millions of them.

Is it perfect? Is it ready for prime time? Nope.

Jacques, Gopal, and Shaikh all agree that there's a lot more work to be done. There are still many fundamental issues such as how much centralized control OpenDaylight does, or doesn't, need and how to handle security. In addition, the project needs more developers and writers. And, needless to say, Hydorgen is more of a developer's release than a production one. Still, it's an impressive achievement, and it can be used, as Cisco and IBM are showing, in business environments today. 

In short, as Jim Zemlin, the Linux Foundation Executive Director declared in his opening day keynote that OpenDaylight, along with open-source development in general, was “on the right side of history." When it comes to OpenDaylight it looks like he was right.

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Topics: Networking, Cisco, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Open Source, Software Development

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  • I find it interesting that

    years ago, Steven crowed about how the developer living in his mother's basement, by combining forces with thousands of other geeks with no social life would drive big business to its knees. Much as Stallman believed would happen with the Open Source movement.

    Tens of thousands of developers writing programs to be donated to the masses, would eliminate the need for these massively large businesses by creating what those businesses create and donating those creations to mankind.

    Fast forward a decade or so.

    Now, Steven crows when one of those big businesses (IBM in this case) proposes a new something or other, pledging those billions in cash needed and the expertise to drive the project to successful conclusion, of course, in cooperation with other businesses donating their fair share of resources.

    While the license makes the technology available to the masses, only a business with the resources to buy experts in the technology can use it, effectively eliminating the need for the license to recoup all that donated cash along the say.

    Funny how in the beginning, the Open Source movement long maintained that corporations are basically evil (read Stallman's current thoughts at and yet it took business to drive Open Source to a useful state.

    Steven even crows about how IBM and MS both contribute to Linux, over the contributions of the individual developers.

    Gone are the days of the evangelicals preaching the goodness of Open Source creating independent from the evil of big business, replaced by big business driving Open Source to their ends.

    Maybe the leaders of the Open Source movement arn't as pure as originally thought.
    • Strawman

      The whole premise of your post is false and it is that open source is the playground of amateurs who can't or won't work for a living, but are instead subsidized by the truly productive members of society (Mom, in your opening paragraph). The insinuation is that real professionals use and promote proprietary software.

      I've never seen any evidence that SJVN or any other FOSS advocate accepts your premise. Richard Stallman explicitly rejects it and tells stories of how he made his living as a freelance programmer (explicitly reserving the right to give away his code to whomever once the job was done) before the FSF became his full time job.
      John L. Ries
      • One of the ironies is...

        ...when Richard Stallman started his work on GNU in the 1980s, he first attempted to solicit funds from large computer manufacturers (most of whom were maintaining and selling their own proprietary UNIX systems for the mainframes and minis they sold) on the theory that his system would end up saving them more money than they'd lose from software licenses. Almost 30 years later, GNU is an important component of any Linux distro and Linux has largely displaced the propretary UNIXs the computer manufacturers were trying to protect from GNU.
        John L. Ries
      • There is no insinuation

        that real programmers sell proprietary software, just that in the beginning Steven and others in the Open Source movement believed that the hordes of individual programmers could create the software to replace that of disciplined IT groups.

        Now, fast forward 15 years (since I've been following it) and now, all the crowing is about corporate support.

        It's full circle. The corporations are in control, yet again.
        • In practice...

's been a combination of both. Volunteers do some work, other work is done by paid professionals. The result has been more choice in the software market, which I think is good for everybody but a handful of monopolists, to include one particular company we talk too much about in this forum.

          I should mention that one of my working hypotheses regarding the success of the free software movement was a lack of competition in the proprietary sector (monopolistic business practices often have those sorts of unintended consequences).
          John L. Ries
          • Let me reword that last paragraph

            I should mention that one of my working hypotheses regarding the success of the free software movement is that it is a direct consequence of a lack of competition in the proprietary sector (monopolistic business practices often have those sorts of unintended consequences).
            John L. Ries
          • As you said, it's only a working hypotheses

            and Steven is still crowing about IBM running things. So much for the volunteers, they've been replaced by the professionals.
          • But I think the evidence bears it out

            Where else were we poor ABMers supposed to go after IBM abandoned OS/2 and Be went broke?

            Nature abhors a vacuum.
            John L. Ries
  • Balance

    "...thousands of other geeks with no social life...". Exaggerating to make your point? "...mother's basement..." Giving that embedded blade an extra shove/twist? But don't get me wrong. I do see some of your arguments.
    However please notice that it's Gopal, V.P of a large Vendor/Corporation speaking when this is said, "We will not be driven by large vendors' agendas and that we will be transparent and open."
    So, is it carte blanche anathema to Business per say? Or is it antipathy to the excessive greed and heartlessness that is eschewed, by the 'purists'?
    If Stallman et al is ideologically rigid that any organized effort, especially large ones, for financial reasons is verboten, then in my humble opinion the philosophical theory itself is imbalanced and not real politik. In other words, it'll never cut it in the real world.
    But my understanding of FOSS Licenses is that they don't preclude marketing and profiting altogether at all. But it is how it's done and to what degree is what is constructed in by deliberate and hopeful design to avoid the degeneration into the cutthroat, proprietary 'bottom line' alone ethos that the Kingdoms of Microsoft and Apple and Google for instance have each become. Witness the seemingly endless Patent Wars. Which has become a lucrative International Industry.
    Ensuing from their philosophical bent are vastly overpriced products to the Private Consumer and Business. So much overpriced that Bill Gates, among a myriad of other Cyber World Multimillionaires, becomes the 'richest' man in the world. I hope that there is food for thought here, as is in your Post.
    It's the imbalance resulting when excessive greed is engendered by primarily profit oriented proprietary propensities that needs to be avoided. The heartlessness, lack of hands on sensitivity to various arising issues inexplicably seems to come when we insulate and barricade ourselves in MultiNational MultiLevel Management Corporate Kingdoms, from the 'Man/Woman on the Street'. Thereby losing 'the common touch'. Examples are legion.
    No, I'm not a doctrinaire Socialist. But neither a Laissez Faire Capitalist either. The truth is somewhere in between. And that's a long spiel.
  • Open Sources means an individual can learn it

    When I started trying to learn Unix, I either needed to get an account at a college (or business) or spend lots of money on a commercial version. Open source developed at universities enabled me to learn unix tools on my PC running DOS. I couldn't afford $1000 for SCO Xenix or any of the other Unix for PCs out there. That didn't include a C compiler or any other developer tools.

    A few years later, I was able to get Linux on a PC for the cost of getting the floppies. Or 386BSD. Both included development tools. That help lead to a Sys Admin position on SunOS, HP-UX, Irix and other Unix. I was able to still learn on Linux as I went along.

    Red Hat came along and IBM started paying developers to make Linux as good as the proprietary Unix systems I was using. Linux got good enough that Tivo, VMware, Linksys and others based their product on it. Today, few companies would base their business on Solaris, HP-UX or AIX (the others are gone).

    OpenDaylight and OpenStack are open source with companies paying the salary of many of the developers. But I can still download the product and learn to use them at home and get a job based on that knowledge. I'd have to have to spend money on licenses to do the same with Microsoft or Cisco software.
    • Good To Hear

      You're not talking vague, abstract, general philosophical platitudes and stuff, tho' there's a place for all that.
      But rather hands on, an actual case in point anecdote. Where the rubber meets the road.
      Talking about some of the real good, of which I am a recipient too, that Stallman, rightly or wrongly, has become a Poster Boy for.
      And the real good is much more internationally widespread and pervasive than can be easily calculated. Because it is by its philosophical nature not always tied to immediate point on point hard currency, dollars and cents values.
      • I tend to be the pragmatic sort myself, but...

        ...I greatly respect people who have principles and go out of their way to make them work. I strongly believe that way too few people in this world consistently follow their conscience, and that it's better to follow even an misinformed conscience than it is to ignore it. I think that's why I have so much respect for Richard Stallman, even though I don't much care for his politics, and I don't think free software is a moral issue. But if he hadn't thought the latter, the GNU project would never have come into existence, and I think that whole effort has been a huge public benefit.
        John L. Ries