Big Switch Steps Down from OpenDaylight Platinum Status
From the very beginnings of OpenFlow and SDN at Stanford, we have been big proponents of open source software. So it may come as a surprise that we are stepping down from our Platinum status with the OpenDaylight Project and exiting the board of an open source SDN controller project of which we were a founding member. Why are we doing this?
It's not because of the idea. Our Floodlight controller was the first open source SDN controller from a commercial company, and has by far the largest community. We are more than ever convinced that Open Source will be a central part of SDN. Having a widely used platform upon which to build applications would be a boon for the user community and developers. This is what excited us at the beginning, and was why we joined. However the development of such a platform needs to be community based, and it needs to be a meritocracy. While some of the members on the board have the right intentions, overall we don't feel that OpenDaylight as an organization is there yet.
If you followed the mailing list you have seen the proposal that emerged from the community to merge the Floodlight and Cisco code bases (known as the Dixon-Erickson or DE proposal) and the broad community advocacy for a clean, new repository as the starting point. In the end, the leadership of ODL claimed “consensus” was reached to start the project with the Cisco controller as the base repository, despite broad community advocacy to start from a neutral repository – not an incumbent vendor’s. Thinking about this long and hard, it became clear to us that this isn’t a foundation that we can build on for two reasons.
The less important reason is that our controller has a 1-2 year head start on the ODL code base. Porting our applications on a less mature code base would require fixing a lot of issues and re-building a lot of infrastructure. While we could probably deliver a specialized app like Big Tap on OpenDaylight, it is not ready for the general packet forwarding use cases of our customers.
The second, and more important reason is that our energy is better spent concentrating on the needs of the user community – not playing politics with the incumbent vendor community. Specifically, the market is clamoring for a transition toward “bare metal switches,” or “white box switches,” which provide customers an ability to rack-n-stack switches and centrally provision them just like they do with data center rack servers today. This market trend has recently been validated by the user community, including the recently announced Open Compute Project’s networking reference design, the Open Network Foundation’s ongoing OpenFlow work, as well as some other exciting projects that are forming and will be announced soon. We support this trend towards OpenFlow-based bare metal switch fabrics with our Indigo open source repo and our Switch Light thin-switching platform. While forward-thinking customers are committed to this trend, we question whether or not the incumbent hardware vendors leading OpenDaylight have a similar commitment.
Will OpenDaylight and the Cisco ONE controller be the right platform to drive fundamental innovation that could disrupt their legacy business model? Right now from our perspective, the answer is no.
The good news is that over time communities evolve. We still like the overall idea behind ODL and we will watch it closely. We still hope that ODL evolves into a user-oriented community instead of one controlled by a few large incumbent vendors. If these things happen, then we will be back.
In the mean time, we will focus our efforts on the Floodlight user community. Expect some exciting announcements later this year.
Guido Appenzeller – Big Switch Networks CEO