Extreme Networks Rounds Out SDN Portfolio With New OpenDaylight Controller

On the heels of joining the open-source SDN community OpenDaylight, Extreme Networks Tuesday unveiled an SDN platform centered heavily on the OpenDaylight-developed network controller.

San Jose, Calif.-based Extreme also took the wraps off its SDN Innovation Challenge, a new program that will reward developers for creating new SDN applications that can run on the Extreme platform.

At the core of the Extreme SDN platform is a version of the open standards-based OpenDaylight controller that will be infused with some of Extreme's own technology for managing wired and wireless networks and analyzing network applications.

[Related: Extreme, Enterasys Launch First Joint Product, Working On Partner Program Integration ]

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According to Bob Noel, director of solutions marketing at Extreme, Extreme's additions to the core OpenDaylight SDN controller will allow the benefits of SDN -- such as network automation and quicker provisioning times -- to extend beyond the data center and into mobile campus and branch environments as well.

"Our competitors, for the most part, look at SDN as a data center construct," Noel said. "They look at it as orchestration between storage, compute and networking. That’s important, but we believe it needs to be more than that."

Extreme eventually will contribute the APIs for its network management and application analytics software to the OpenDaylight community, allowing other vendors to leverage those capabilities alongside the OpenDaylight controller. Extreme joined OpenDaylight, an open-source community of networking vendors including Cisco, Juniper Networks and Hewlett-Packard, earlier this month.

"We are contributing that intellectual property into the community so, over time, we would expect to see that be more broadly available," Noel said. "But in the short term, it's differentiated."

Extreme's controller also can be used with a range of underlying virtual and physical infrastructure, according to Noel. It can work not only with legacy Extreme switches and the switches it gained through its acquisition of Enterasys last year, but also with third-party switches and those based on the OpenFlow open-source protocol.

The aim of this interoperability, he said, is to free of customers of vendor "lock-in," something he said is inevitable with other SDN solutions on the market, including Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure.

" 'Open' and 'standards-based' is part of everyone's vocabulary in this vendor space, but the large vendors have a lot to lose with SDN," Noel said. "If you look at Cisco being somewhere around 70 percent market share, there is a resistance to making [ACI] so interoperable and open that users can use it with anybody's infrastructure."

Cisco did not immediately respond to CRN's request for comment.

Extreme's SDN platform is a component within the company's broader SDN architecture introduced in April. The architecture is based on OpenFabric SDN Connect 2.0, the next-generation version of Extreme's OneFabric software for automated network and application provisioning.

Tom McDougall, CEO of High Point Networks, a West Fargo, N.D.-based solution provider and Extreme partner, said while customers are still very early on in terms of SDN adoption, Extreme's SDN strategy looks solid so far.

"We do have customers asking about [SDN] because they have heard the buzzwords," McDougall said. "There are a couple of manufacturers that have probably changed their strategy three times in the last six months. Extreme seems to haven the stance of, 'Yes, we are aware of it, we understand and we are doing something about it.' It's just that the entire ecosystem required to make it work hasn't evolved yet."

Extreme Tuesday also rolled out a new program offering incentives to the developer community for creating applications that can run on Extreme's SDN platform. As part of the program, Extreme is providing developers with a software development kit and is paying out a first-, second- and third-place cash prize for the winning applications. Extreme is launching the program alongside the government's U.S. Ignite initiative, aimed at fostering the development of next-generation Internet applications. The program starts in September and will run through May 2015.

Extreme's SDN controller, meanwhile, is slated to ship by the end of the calendar year.