Gartner’s Andrew Lerner, who covers enterprise networking products including SDN, participated in a session on SDN at the most recent Gartner IOM conference in Orlando. He asked the audience “Where are you with respect to SDN?” and found that a majority are still in the evaluation stage. A quarter responded with their own question “What is SDN?” And remember, this was a session dedicated to SDN…
He summarized his key takeaway in a Gartner blog post entitled “The State of SDN Adoption…”:
“There is still mostly just tire-kicking of SDN in the mainstream, with very limited adoption outside of hyperscale and service provider organizations.”
I have been pondering the factors that may cause an enterprise to drag its feet when considering SDN. I believe one primary reason is that there remains a general misperception that integrating open source components is just too difficult, and that there needs to be a more concerted effort to ‘harden’ open source SDN software before it’s a viable solution. If that describes your line of thinking, let me counter that it’s not difficult, just challenging. It may seem like I’m splitting hairs, but bear with me. After all, there’s an entire community dedicated to helping you.
First, what do I mean by hardened open source software in the context of implementing SDN? It is about taking open source software and making it production quality through rigorous and controlled testing. It requires taking a large collection of open source software and reducing it to a smaller set of relevant components that represent a desired function and which you harden. This is important because that’s how you end up with reliable, robust code.
I realize that the network engineer who decides to take on the job of building an open, programmable SDN network has lots of work to do, including sourcing a controller, writing an application for it, and finding compatible hardware, all while managing the existing network. Is anyone available to help?
Short answer: “yes!”
Corsa is an active member of the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), a user-driven organization behind OpenFlow that works to accelerate the adoption of Open SDN through open standards development. Last summer, ONF released the first-ever complete open source implementation for software-defined networking. Named Atrium and available now on ONF’s GitHub repository, the open SDN software distribution makes it easier for NetOps to adopt SDN by integrating standalone open source SDN components with other necessary connecting pieces.
We have also been involved with on.lab as a ONOS contributor since its first releases and worked with other open source packages including Ryu, Vandervecken, Quagga, and SDN-IP to name a few. We believe in open, real SDN and invite everyone to engage with the open SDN community to make it even better. The best way of hardening open source SDN is to continue building the community of networking professionals who can innovate and serve as both advocates and as a source of world-class technical expertise.