Last week, another Open-Source SDN controller hit the market. The Open Networking Lab (On.Lab) is a non-profit consortium to promote networking innovation and last week they released their ONOS controller (link here). If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking a) this sounds eerily familiar and b) do we really need another SDN controller on the market? There are already several open-source SDN software/controller options including OpenDaylight, OpenContrail (via Juniper), Ryu, Floodlight (the “old-school” open-source controller via Big Switch Networks), Midonet (via Midokura) and others. This certainly seems like overkill considering there are less than 1000 mainstream SDN deployments out there and most folks want a commercially supported controller.
It’s all about the (Northbound) API…
So this could further fragment an already-fragmented space, especially after a potential center of gravity was starting to coalesce around ODL. Putting that aside for a second, one of the biggest keys to this whole SDN movement is the northbound API. Without a common shared NB-API, it is like everyone is using a different foreign currency – nobody can exchange goods across borders (controllers). If ONOS and ODL ultimately share a NB-API then coolness (i.e., innovation and adoption) can prevail. In all likelihood, there will be handful of SDN NB-APIs that emerge as de-facto standards, so it is critically important that ODL, ONF and ONOS can agree on at least one consistent well-documented, feature-rich NB-API. That would be key to limiting further fragmentation and could also even proliferate SDN adoption. This theoretical shared NB-API would make SDN services/apps portable across multiple controllers. And after all, that is one of the general principles behind SDN, right?
All that said, I reviewed some of the ONOS collateral and they claim differentiation via their architecture (more about that here). They’ve architected the ONOS controller for distributed (scale-out) capability, to run across multiple devices. As a result of this distributed architecture they claim a) reduced latency, b) a high degree of scalability supporting up to 1M transactions per second and c) increased resiliency via clustering. Obviously, I’ve not been able to validate these with anyone actually running the ONOS controller yet (always important to caveat that!).
Who’s Behind all this?
AT&T is a big backer of the project (to the tune of $5M in investments) along with other network operators (i.e., network equipment buyers) like NTT and Internet2. However, the consortium is also made of equipment vendors (sellers) including Ciena, Fujitsu, Huawei, and Ericsson. So, while it has been reported that ONOS is “free from vendor influence“, in reality there is certainly influence from equipment vendors. Call me a skeptic (not the first time and won’t be the last), and yes, we’ve been critical of OpenDaylight for this as well.
Service Provider Focused
Given the AT&T investment, its not surprising that they’re initially targeting carriers and organizations running really big networks. So this is a vertically focused offering which is a good thing (less overlap with ODL) and reduces the potential for fragmentation. Who knows; maybe ONOS becomes the de-facto carrier SDN controller while ODL becomes an enterprise-centric controller….as long as they share the NB-API…(I can dream).
Related SDN Research:
The links below include Gartner’s SDN taxonomy, success stores from early adopters, and guidance for mainstream enterprise.
- Ending the Confusion About Software-Defined Networking: A Taxonomy, http://www.gartner.com/resId=2367616
- Beyond the Hype: SDN Delivers Real-World Benefits in Mainstream Enterprises, http://www.gartner.com/document/2874018
- Mainstream Organizations Should Prepare for SDN Now, http://www.gartner.com/docshare?resId=2685029
- A collection of blog entries relating to SDN over the past year: https://blogs.gartner.com/andrew-lerner/category/sdn/
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Category: in-the-news networking product-annoucement sdn
Tags: att big-switch ciena contrail ericcson floodlight fujitsu hp-huawei infoblox internet2 juniper midokura ntt on-labs onos opendaylight ryu
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