March is a rather event-laden month for Open Source and Open Standards in networking: the 89th IETF, EclipseCon 2014, RSA 2014, the Open Networking Summit, the IEEE International Conference on Cloud (where I’ll be talking about the role of Open Source as we morph the Cloud down to Fog computing) and my favorite, the one and only Open Source Think Tank where this year we dive into the not-so-small world (there is plenty of room at the bottom!) of machine-to-machine (m2m) and Open Source, that some call the Internet of Everything.
There is a lot more to March Madness, of course, in the case of Open Source, a good time to celebrate the 1st anniversary of “Meet Me on the Equinox“, the fleeting moment where daylight conquered the night the day that project Daylight became Open Daylight. As I reflect on how quickly it started and grew from the hearts and minds of folks more interested in writing code than talking about standards, I think about how much the Network, previously dominated, as it should, by Open Standards, is now beginning to run with Open Source, as it should. We captured that dialog with our partners and friends at the Linux Foundation in this webcast I hope you’ll enjoy. I hope you’ll join us in this month in one of these neat places.
As Open Source has become dominant in just about everything, Virtualization, Cloud, Mobility, Security, Social Networking, Big Data, the Internet of Things, the Internet of Everything, you name it, we get asked how do we get the balance right? How does one work with the rigidity of Open Standards and the fluidity of Open Source, particularly in the Network? There is only one answer, think of it as the Yang of Open Standards, the Yin of Open Source, they need each other, they can not function without the other, particularly in the Network. Open Source is just the other side, the wild side!
First Open Daylight Summit took place exactly one year since we’ve started the project, to the day! Ah, those memories of having to stay quietly patient, from our first meeting, February 4th, 2013, and longer… in hindsight, talking about it after the code actually started to flow was more appropriate, the 2013 Spring Equinox, as it should. The Open Daylight community has shown that code is the coin of the realm, as it should. To walk that talk, a million lines of code are flowing now and for a project with partners and committers as diverse as this, one cannot do that unless there is a strong tie that binds, the commitment that the best multi protocol controller will be open source: as Linux achieved that status in the OS world, OpenDaylight has a bright opportunity to do so in the network world. As for the bad news, there aren’t any: yes, we would like to see ourselves talk more about use, before we talk about our size, but for a one year old, I think we should be patient.
The outstanding news for this young project is the community diversity, energy and commitment: it brings the best protocol (SB) guys in the world with the best scientists and network (NB) developers in the world in a focused, collaborative, engaged community. Remember, in open source, community trumps code, which side by side with its project sovereignty, is nothing but a formula for success. That is what sets Open Daylight apart, and as long as we take care of those two things, it will be fine. As I said last week during the event, particularly good to see Google, Intel, Ericsson, Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, RedHat and others doing their presentations celebrating this event. I am proud of these guys, how they lead the way for any other Open Source project interested in leveraging the network (be it Open Stack, Open Compute Project, or others), Linux Foundation and Open Daylight is the best way to stay ahead, to stay engaged: if you are interesting in networking and open source, there is no other better place than this.
Now that OpenDaylight has arrived, it’s time to explain why I made the Open Source choices eventually embraced by its Founders and the community at large. One doesn’t often see such leaders as Cisco, IBM, Intel, HP, Juniper, RedHat, VMWare, NEC, Microsoft and others agree, share and collaborate on such key technologies, let alone the latter engaging in a Linux Foundation based community (some thought hell will freeze over before that would ever happen, though it got pretty cold at times last Spring).
For those of you not familiar with OpenDaylight (see “Meet Me On The Equinox”, not a homage to Death Cab for Cutie or my Transylvanian homeland), IBM and Cisco have actually started this with an amazing set of partners, nearly that ephemeral Equinox this year (~11am, March 20th) though we couldn’t quite brag about it until all our partners saw the daylight, which by now, we’re hoping everyone does. It was hard not to talk about all this as we saw those half baked, speculative stories before the Equinox – amazing how information flew, distorted as it were, but it did; I wish source code would be that “rapid”, we’d all be so much better for it…
The Open Source model for OpenDaylight is simple, it has only two parts: the community is hosted in the Linux Foundation and the license is Eclipse. The details are neatly captured in a white paper we wrote and published in the Linux Foundation. Dan Frye, my friend and fellow counterpart at IBM and I came up with the main points after two short meetings. It would have been one, but when you work for such giants as our parent companies and soon to be OpenDaylight partners, one has to spend a little more time getting everyone to see the daylight. It boils down to two things, which I am convinced are the quintessential elements of any successful open source project.
1) Community. Why? Because it trumps everything: code, money and everything else. A poor community with great code equals failure (plenty of examples of that). A great community with poor (or any) code equals success (plenty of examples of that too). Why? Because open source equals collaboration, of the highest kind: I share with you, and you with me, whatever I have, I contribute my time, my energy, my intellectual property, my reputation, etc.. And ultimately it becomes “ours”. And the next generation’s. Open Source is not a technology; it’s a development model. With more than 10 million open source developers world wide, it happens to be based on collaboration on a scale and diversity that humanity has never experienced before. Just think about what made this possible and the role some of the OpenDaylight partners have already played in it since the dawn of the Internet. Dan Frye and I agreed that the Linux Kernel community is the best in the world and so we picked the closest thing to it to model and support ours, the Linux Foundation.
2) Fragmentation, or anti-fragmentation, actually. Why? The biggest challenge of any open source project is how to avoid fragmentation (the opposite of collaboration). Just ask Andy Rubin and the Android guys what they fear the most. Just ask any open source project’s contributors, copyright holders, or high priests, how much they appreciate an open source parasite that won’t give back. Though we would have liked to go deeper, we settled on Eclipse, largely because of the actual language and technology we dealt with in the OpenDaylight Controller: most, if not all the initial code is Java, and though some are worried about that, I’m sure Jim Gosling is proud (btw, I’m not sure the Controller has to stay that way, I actually agree with Amin Vahdat), but we had to start somewhere. Plus having a more friendly language NB (northbound, as in the applications run on top of the Controller) is such a cool thing, we think that the #1 open source (Eclipse) and the #1 commercial (Microsoft) IDE’s are going to be very good to it, so why not? There are more reasons that pointed in the Eclipse direction, and other reasons for such wonderful alternatives (as APL or MPL, perhaps the subject of another post, some day). But when it comes to understanding the virtues of them all, no one understands them better than the amazing founders of these license models, most of them from IBM, of course (I wish they did that when I was there).
What happened between the Equinox and Solstice is a fascinating saga within the OpenDaylight community which I think played its course in the spirit of total and complete openness, inclusion, diversity, respect of the individual and the community, and most of all, that code rules – we do believe in running code and community consensus. I tip my hat to all my fellow colleagues that learned these two things along the way, the enormous talent at the Eclipse and Linux Foundation that helped us launch, and even the analysts who tried (and did incredibly well at times) to speculate the secret reasons why these partners came up with the model we did: there is no secret at all, my friends, we’re simply creating a community that is truly open, diverse, inclusive, and never fragmented. Just like a big, happy family. Welcome to OpenDaylight, we hope you’ll stay!
As we continue to expand on the conversation of the Cisco Open Network Environment (Cisco ONE), this week provides yet another educational opportunity (Register here) to discuss a topic that has become some what top of mind to customers, partners and even investors alike. This is the topic of open source in networked environments. While Cisco has always been known for open standards, it has now stepped up into the open source conversation in a fairly big way over the couple of years with its contributions to both OpenStack and the more recent OpenDaylight project under the Linux foundation.
Join me and my good friends Dan Frye and Jim Zemlin, Tuesday June 18th at 8:30 am Pacific, in a webcast as we discuss open source, networking, communities and projects, the opportunities entailed, the win-win-win model (or win-cube model as I like to call it, for the Authors, for the Community and for the Enterprise), and the recently announced Open Daylight project hosted by the Linux Foundation. Thank you, Shashi Kiran, for organizing a wonderful event and opportunity to talk about one of my favorite subjects, Open at Cisco.