OpenDaylight debuts new Helium SDN software

With version 2 of its open source SDN software, the OpenDaylight consortium seeks to dispel doubts about its motives and constituents

big data network

The OpenDaylight Project, an industry consortium supported by the Linux Foundation to foster an "open and transparent approach" to SDN (software-defined networking), has released version 2.0 of its open source SDN software. Dubbed the Helium software project, the 2.0 release brings new insight into the direction of both Helium and OpenDaylight.

Skepticism has surrounded the OpenDaylight consortium from the start: Why would its members, most prominently Cisco, seek to promote open SDN standards that posed a potential threat to proprietary networking? In part, the Helium release seems intended to quell such doubts.

Most striking is the way OpenDaylight integrates with OpenStack, "including significant improvements in the Open vSwitch Database Integration project, and a technology preview of advanced OpenStack features such as Security Groups, Distributed Virtual Router and Load Balancing-as-a-Service," according to the Linux Foundation. The functions are scheduled to land in "Juno," the OpenStack release planned for October of this year.

OpenDaylight has received at least as much scrutiny for the politics of its constituents as for the technology developed under its banner. The motives behind the most notable member of the consortium, Cisco, are widely debated; some speculate Cisco's involvement in the project (possibly IBM's as well) is for the sake of allowing its projects to prosper, among them the proprietary offerings of its spinoff Insieme.

There's open source competition, too, from OpenFlow, a software-defined networking standard that revolves around programming flow tables for switches and routers. Cisco has proposed alternatives for OpenFlow; Juniper, too, has created an open SDN solution, OpenContrail, and been dismissive of how complete or mature OpenDaylight is.

Neela Jacques, executive director of OpenDaylight, emphasized the group is endeavoring to keep its governance process open and even-handed. "The primary way you ensure no one company can oversteer is by building diversity and ensuring the right governance models," he stated in an email.

One example: Cisco patterned its group-based policy project for OpenDaylight after its ACI policy model. "We know lots of other developers don't necessarily agree with the group-based policy model," Jacques said. "We could see either or both. The fact that the project keeps adding developers and that companies keep increasing their investment is a testament to the belief that we are running the project in an unbiased fashion. Diversity is a process and all signs show it occurring in our project."

Some former holdouts against OpenDaylight have shifted their positions. HP, for one, decided to throw more of its backing into the project earlier this year and has since upgraded its OpenDaylight membership to the top-notch platinum tier. Jacques claimed at the time that HP's shift was "a tremendous validation of how far [OpenDaylight has] come."

Jacques also confirmed that the OpenStack user community, "especially the telecommunications carriers," offered input for some changes in Helium 2.0. "Many [carriers] are in the planning stages of re-architecting their networks around SDN and NFV and see OpenStack and OpenDaylight as key technologies to leverage," he said. "The definitely want to ensure that the two projects dovetail handing off cleanly to each other."

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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