SDN Power Users in 2015

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the OpenDaylight Summit in Santa Clara, California, a conference for OpenDaylight (ODL ), the open-source software defined network (SDN) project. When compared to last year’s summit, which was mostly developer focused, we saw more operator and user sessions this year.

These sessions demonstrated that the conversations around SDN are increasingly focused on real-world deployments: “OpenDaylight is no longer ‘slideware.’ We are using it,” said Margaret Chiosi, a distinguished network architect at AT&T labs. Chinese Internet giant Tencent has been using ODL since 2013 to build out its SDN network. Marty Ma, Senior Director of Tencent’s Technology and Engineering Group, said during an interview with OpenDaylight Executive Director Neela Jacques that, “We request all our partners to be OpenDaylight compatible by the end of this year.” This is consistent with the user stories from Caltech, City of Bristol England, Comcast, Orange and many others.

What’s driving this usage? As shown in the graphic below, OpenDaylight conducted a survey with the ODL user base and learned that 73 percent of users have already deployed or plan to deploy OpenDaylight in the next 12 months. Their top two use cases are NFV and cloud. Among those surveyed, 41 percent said Network Monitoring and Analytics is their primary deployment use case for ODL.

You can also see the top reasons why organizations are selecting ODL, including increased interoperability and portability of software systems; increased operational efficiency; and greater ability to innovate and compete.

SDN Dragon’s Den

Further evidence of the activity around SDN was the “Dragon’s Den” at the conference, where the “Dragons” of networking – leading developers and technologists from OpenDaylight and the industry at-large – evaluated and provided feedback on the technical viability and real-world applicability of SDN services and applications. Sam Kanakamedala, our Director of Product Management, and I shared our Software Defined Traffic Engineering (SD-TE) app, which will enable organizations to automatically optimize and provision traffic engineered tunnels. This will leverage our Explorer Suite’s always-current network models, traffic matrices, and performance data to verify if requested TE tunnels’ bandwidth and latency requirements can be accommodated without impacting other services adversely. If so, it will calculate the best paths and provision the tunnels via the OpenDaylight controller.


Photo courtesy of OpenDaylight

Our SD-TE app was well received by the “Dragons” and the audience. Kevin Woods, Director of Product Management for Brocade, probed about the various traffic engineering recommendations that the app could provide. Jim Burns, CTO of Elbrys Networks, asked about the green field and brown field deployment use case scenarios. Roz Roseboro, Senior Analyst at Heavy Reading, inquired about usage of the SD-TE app in autopilot mode, i.e. when the TE analysis and orchestration occur without human intervention.

Conclusion

I would like to see more user/operator stories and many more SDN apps at upcoming OpenDaylight summits and SDN Dragon’s Den sessions. At Packet Design, we see similar enthusiasm from our customers on SDN and OpenDaylight. We have all hands on deck to release our SD-TE app with the Packet Design SDN Service Assurance platform later this fall. It has already been integrated with Lithium, the third release of OpenDaylight.