Big Switch Exits OpenDaylight SDN Group

Jeffrey Burt is a senior editor for eWEEK and contributor to TechWeekEurope

Big Switch Networks has left the SDN project it helped create citing the undue influence of major players like Cisco

Big Switch Networks is regarded as a key player in the burgeoning software-defined network (SDN) market, but this did not stop it from leaving the open-source OpenDaylight Project it helped found only two months ago.

In a 5 June post on Big Switch’s blog, CEO Guido Appenzeller said the project’s decision to merge the software-defined network (SDN) controller technologies from Big Switch and Cisco Systems to create a common controller confirmed fears that his company had that OpenDaylight would be driven by big vendors rather than what was best for the industry.

Open Platform

“Thinking about this long and hard, it became clear to us that this isn’t a foundation that we can build on,” Appenzeller wrote.

fiber Network Server © xiaoliangge - FotoliaThe OpenDaylight Project was created by more than a dozen tech vendors – including Big Switch, IBM, Cisco, Arista Networks and Hewlett-Packard – to develop an open platform for SDNs that would be widely adopted and enable vendors to compete at higher levels, such as with the applications that run atop the SDN platform.

Big Switch’s departure comes a day after several other vendors – including Cyan, Huawei, Plexxi, Radware and Inocybe Technologies joined the consortium.

OpenDaylight, being run under the auspices of the Linux Foundation, joined a number of other community-based SDN projects run by such groups as the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) and Open Compute Project.

However, from its launch in April, there has been scepticism about the validity of OpenDaylight – including from Big Switch officials – because of the involvement of such big networking vendors as Cisco and IBM. In an interview with eWEEK before the company announced it was stepping down from the project, Jason Matlof, vice president of marketing at Big Switch, said OpenDaylight was a “big question mark” because of Cisco’s involvement.

“If the industry is interested in open source and open standards in networking, do we really trust Cisco with this?” Matlof asked.

Vendor Lock-in

Others had echoed Matlof’s sentiment. Gartner analyst Mark Fabbi said that the “ulterior motive for Cisco is to gain a voice in SDN, which they didn’t have before,” while Bethany Mayer, senior vice president and general manager of HP Networking, stressed the importance of true openness in SDN in everything from the controller to the northbound and southbound interfaces.

“Those have to remain open and we cannot allow [vendor lock-in] to happen, because then innovation will die, and we just can’t have that in the networking industry right now,” Mayer told eWEEK last month.

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