Linux Foundation Unveils Project To Build Open, Programmable Network

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In an effort to develop a set of standardized interfaces for programatically controlling networking gear regardless of brand and without access to the physical hardware, The Linux Foundation, in conjunction with other industry heavyweights, Monday took the wraps off OpenDaylight Project.

Software-defined networking has been on the drawing board for decades. But, the ability to reconfigure network equipment from within a software application has remained in the realm of the homogeneous, such as data-center management solutions from Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and others. But, the open source project unveiled this week brings hope for a new day.

With a member list that reads like a who's who of the networking and computer industries, OpenDaylight is on a mission to build an open source framework and architecture that accelerates a common platform for SDN. Participating members include Brocade, Cisco, Citrix, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, Juniper, Microsoft, Red Hat, and VMware, plus smaller companies and individuals, according to the foundation's announcement on its website.

[Related: Juniper Bolsters SDN Strategy With New Programmable EX9200 Switch ]

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And, it appears as if the project has hit the ground running; the OpenDaylight project's website is already stocked with developer tools for bug tracking, identity and repository management, and source and quality control.

Among the founding members is Cisco, which already has done much to advance the cause of software-defined networking. Along with engineering resources, the company has donated the core code of its Cisco Open Network Environment (Cisco One) controller, an extensible network and fabric controller with support for OpenFlow and other protocols as well as APIs REST and OSGI.

"The community has come together around this code to form the architecture for the Open SDN Framework," said David Ward, CTO of engineering and chief architect at Cisco in a blog post about news of the project. "Beyond donations of code, project members are supporting the project via financial investment and developers. We are committing to work full-time on the project overall."

Cisco's code was released under the Eclipse Public License.

Other members are planning to donate code and/or expertise. Arista Networks has proposed to help build a large-scale, automated self-service virtualized cloud environment. Similarly, Big Switch Networks will donate a high-availability data store, distributed virtual routing service applications, controller code, network virtualization and other open source portions of its Open SDN Suite.

Citrix is putting up an application controller for Layer 4-7 network services. Such apps are capable of inspecting Layer 4 of a packet to determine the type of traffic being carried (e.g. Web traffic), and Layer 7 to know more about the type of activity being requested (e.g. HTTP Get).

IBM will donate an open source version of DOVE, the company's Distributed Overlay Virtual Ethernet, which simplifies the setup and management of virtual networks.

The foundation expects additional code, expertise and support to continue to filter in and openly invites open source developers to make code donations.

"Additional products and code offerings from other companies, academia and individuals are expected to follow, and code donations are welcome on an ongoing basis from the open source developer community," the foundation said in its announcement.