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OpenDaylight. ONF Sheds Light.

May 2, 2013

Executive Director Dan Pitt provides insight on the Open Networking Foundation’s perspective regarding the OpenDaylight Project

Since the announcement of the Linux Foundation’s OpenDaylight Project, a community-led and industry-supported open source framework focused on accelerating adoption of Software-Defined Networking (SDN), we have received interest and questions from the SDN community on the project’s purpose and its relationship with the Open Networking Foundation (ONF).

ONF welcomes all who support our mission of furthering the commercialization of open, standards-based SDN. We believe that code talks and are therefore supportive of efforts to develop working code. We are pleased that the OpenDaylight Project, which centers on the controller, relies for its southbound interface on the OpenFlow protocol standard, the first and only vendor-neutral, standard communication interface between the control and forwarding layers of an SDN architecture. As a user-led organization committed to driving appropriate standards, we see it as a positive opportunity for another complementary organization to further the commercialization of open, standard-based SDN along with the OpenFlow® protocol standard that we provide and continue to evolve.

The main difference between our organizations is that ONF is a user-led organization developing fundamental architecture and building blocks, whereas the OpenDaylight Project is primarily a vendor-led organization focused exclusively on implementing one instantiation of SDN. For example, ONF has resisted pressure to standardize a northbound API, because we feel a software interface like this is best arrived at through continued market experimentation. Thus, we are studying and characterizing – and possibly prototyping – it and the variety of data models currently employed in the market, but not standardizing it. One aspect of the OpenDaylight Project is the development of a northbound API, and this is as it should be. Especially as an open-source project, OpenDaylight will test and iterate on their northbound API with real code serving real applications and use cases. If it achieves widespread market adoption, that will validate its utility to users – at least users of those applications and use cases.

As a voice of the user community, we in ONF value those initiatives that are true to our guiding principles by being based on multi-vendor standards and open to broad, merit-based, multi-vendor input. We are pleased to see our member companies take leading roles in the OpenDaylight Project and we always encourage them to participate in industry initiatives – including open-source ones – designed to foster innovation, implementation, and deployment.

In fact, we encourage organizations like the OpenDaylight Project that are building on ONF’s OpenFlow® substrate to develop open-source software. We believe this is the purpose of the OpenFlow® substrate – to provide companies with a solid foundation upon which to build software that best serves their needs while encouraging interoperability without compromising quality. The value of any SDN implementation will always be concentrated in the innovative software that runs above such a foundation. To some degree this includes the controller that the OpenDaylight Project focuses on, with the most valuable, user-customized software running above that.

The amount of time and resources that vendor companies are investing in the OpenDaylight Project truly demonstrates the importance and demand for SDN in the networking industry. We look forward to seeing what the OpenDaylight Project produces, and we hope that the additional conversations taking place regarding SDN will increase understanding and awareness about this disruptive and innovative technology. Most importantly, we are eager to see how this and other initiatives increase the adoption of SDN and meet the needs of users.

– Dan Pitt, Executive Director