OpenDaylight Prepares ‘Hydrogen’ SDN Platform

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The first release of OpenDaylight’s SDN architecture comes five months after founding members including IBM, Cisco and the Linux Foundation announced the initiative

The OpenDaylight Project, a vendor-led effort to create an open platform for software-defined networks, is giving the industry the first details of its initial release, code-named “Hydrogen”.

Hydrogen comes five months after founding members such as IBM and Cisco Systems – and the Linux Foundation, which is overseeing the project – announced the initiative, which is designed to create an open, common SDN platform. The platform – including the controller platform, user interfaces and data plane elements such as virtual switches – would give vendors the foundation for SDN and enable them to compete at higher levels, particularly the applications and service that run atop the SDN platform, that bring more value to end users, according to participants.

Open platform

The first glimpse at the initial platform also comes despite some scepticism around the credibility of the OpenDaylight Project, which some analysts and vendors claim is hindered by the presence of such vendors as IBM and Cisco as driving members.

However, despite the doubts, members insist the OpenDaylight Project is creating an open SDN platform.

Linux, penguin © Nik Frey Shutterstock 2012“The OpenDaylight community is developing an SDN architecture that supports a wide range of protocols and can rapidly evolve in the direction SDN goes, not based on any one vendor’s purposes,” David Meyer, chairman of the project’s Technical Steering Committee, said in a statement. “As an open source project, OpenDaylight can be a core component within any SDN architecture, putting the user in control. The community is working to further refine the Service Abstraction Layer to deliver an efficient application API that can be used over a broad collection of network devices so we can deliver a best-of-breed platform that will help users of all stripes realise the promise of SDN.”

That promise is to create more flexible, scalable and programmable networks by separating the control plane from the underlying physical hardware. Currently most of the network intelligence is housed within vendors’ switches and routers, which have to be programmed manually, an effort that takes time and is error-prone. SDN will help make networks more automated and responsive, according to advocates.

According to OpenDaylight, the Hydrogen architecture will include new and legacy protocols such as OVSDB, OpenFlow 1.3.0, BGP and PCEP, as well as multiple methods for network virtualisation and two initial applications that leverage features of OpenDaylight: Affinity Metadata Service to aid in policy management and Defense4All to protect against distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. The architecture also includes an integrated plug-in for OpenStack Neutron, and the Open vSwitch Database project will include management from within OpenStack.


Contributing to the effort were vendors Cisco, IBM, ConteXtream, Ericsson, NEC, Plexxi, Radware and Pantheon. Also contributing were the Industrial Technology Research Institute and University of Kentucky developers Brent Salsibury and Evan Zeller.

The architecture will be shown at what the OpenDaylight Project is calling OpenDaylight Mini-Summits on 18 September in New Orleans and 22 October in Edinburgh.

SDN is getting a lot of attention from vendors, analysts and journalists alike, but currently – outside of major Web 2.0 companies like Amazon and Google, which tend to be early adopters of technologies that help their massive data centres run more easily and cost-effectively – there are relatively few real-world SDN deployments. However, that will come, probably starting in the fourth quarter, Gartner analyst Mark Fabbi told eWEEK this summer.

“SDN is very real for some of the big cloud providers… guys who are selling big Internet services,” Fabbi said.

OpenDaylight is among a number of open efforts around SDN, with others including the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) and the Open Compute Project. Skeptics of the OpenDaylight Project have pointed to these other efforts as part of their criticism. SDN startup Big Switch Networks withdrew from OpenDaylight two months after it was announced, after the project decided to merge the SDN controller technologies from Big Switch and Cisco to create a common controller. Big Switch officials viewed that as an example that OpenDaylight would be driven by big vendors and not by what is best for the industry.

“Thinking about this long and hard, it became clear to us that this isn’t a foundation that we can build on,” Big Switch chief executive Guido Appenzeller wrote in a post on his company’s blog in June.

‘Forward progress’

However, in his own post on the OpenDaylight blog the same day, David Meyer, CTO and chief scientist at Brocade and an OpenDaylight board member, said the decision on the controller was a good example of how open-source development should work.

Noting that multiple controller code bases were submitted, Meyer said that “the community looked at the code, weighed the merits of various parts and in typical open-source fashion picked the best pieces from multiple codebases to build the base controller. In the open-source software world, that’s positive forward progress.”

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Originally published on eWeek.

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