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Three light beams that emanated from OpenDaylight Summit

February 21, 2014 at 5:30 am PST

Earlier this month, I attended the first ever summit on OpenDaylight (ODL) project in Santa Clara, CA. This near sold out event was largely successful by many standards. It brought together a large number of great minds to the table to solve some of the toughest challenges the networking industry is facing around Software-defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV). The group announced a first major step forward with the first open source software release called Hydrogen.  The bulk of the credit goes to 154 contributors from Cisco, IBM, Ericsson, Red Hat, Citrix and others who wrote over a million lines of code in past ten months to make this happen.

The two-day summit was packed with a variety of sessions that were geared towards a diverse set of audience. The sessions varied from general topics to specific topics such as relevance of Open source software, NFV, LISP, standards, discussions on North and South bound APIs, developer tutorials for building applications & tool chain, using OpenStack with ODL, analytics, test automation, and a true story of SDN in production environment.

Of all these topics, here are the three important themes that stood out to me -

    1.      The importance of an Open Source, community initiative for SDN

The concept of Open Source software has been around since decades. It is fast catching up in the non-traditional realms of computer networking. For some, the concept of open source equates to free software. While this is partially true, I strongly believe that open=free is a misnomer. I have started to realize that open source and further, the collaborative initiatives like ODL is far beyond the notion of freeness. In my view, the most important thing that such an initiative does is to gather right minds to bring out bright ideas. The collective wisdom that emanates from such a collaborative initiative helps vendors develop a cohesive set of products that speaks a common language, and perhaps share certain fundamental design constructs to aid interoperability. At the same time, I believe that this collaboration helps to compress the infinite ways vendors can built products to a bounded, agreed upon set of behaviors and interfaces. Customers are real beneficiaries of such an open initiative due to this standardization and better product interoperability. As Vijay Pandey from IBM aptly said in one of his presentations, open source initiatives like ODL “promote innovation and raise the value bar.”

Cisco firmly believes in and supports such open source initiatives. Cisco is a platinum member of ODL project, as well as a Gold member of OpenStack Foundation. You can find more information about OpenStack at Cisco , and a rich set of Cisco Services to help you exploit and adopt OpenStack.


    2.      What and how much to Standardize (North and South bound APIs)

In the summit, there were several interesting debates on what to standardize and how much. With regards to how much, I am with Guru Parulkar’s mantra to “standardize as little as possible.”

One of the core capabilities that SDN brings to the table is the notion around exposing interfaces from control plane to the infrastructure layer (South Bound APIs or SBI) and to the application/business layer (North bound APIs or NBI).  We talked about using common approach for design constructs above, and the APIs are central to the constructs. However, if we (are somehow able to) standardize every hook into the system, we are forcing the industry to take a “single” approach to solve the underlying problems. Additionally, I believe that such an approach will not only go against the very notion of openness, but will also hinder innovation and ability to provide unique experiences.

If we talk about SBI, we rightly need some standardized ways to abstract some of the infrastructure complexities. I learnt that ODL will include support for SDN open standards such as OpenFlow, VxLAN, PCEP etc. Similar to SBI, can we standardize the NBI’s as well?

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OpenDaylight Unleashes Hydrogen to the Masses

The OpenDaylight Project today announced that its first open source software release Hydrogen is now available for download. As the first simultaneous code release cross-community it has contributions across fifty organizations and includes over one million lines of code. Yes. ODL > 1MLOC. For those of you interested that’s approximately two hundred and thirty man-years of work completed in less than twelve months.

It was around this time last year that the media started to pick up on a few rumors that something may be in the works with software-defined networking and controllers. I remember our first meeting at Citrix where the community started to collaborate on The OpenDaylight Project and come to common ground on how to start something this large. We had multiple companies and academics in the room and many ideas of where we wanted this project to go but there was one thing we had in common: the belief and vision to drive networking software innovation to the Internet in a new way and accelerate SDN in the open; transparently and with diverse community support. Each of us had notions of what we could bring to the table, from controller offerings to virtualization solutions, SDN protocol plugins and apps to solve IT problems. Over two days at Citrix we looked at things from a customer perspective, a developer perspective and ultimately and arguably the most important, a community perspective. From there The OpenDaylight Project emerged under the Linux Foundation. As I look back I want to applaud and thank the companies, partners, developers, community members and the Linux Foundation for driving such a large vision from concept to reality in less than twelve months, which is an incredible feat in itself.

Hydrogen is truly a community release. Use cases span across enterprise, service provider, academia, data center, transport and NfV. There are multiple southbound protocols abstracted to a common northbound API for cross-vendor integration and interoperability and three editions have been created to ensure multi-domain support and application delivery as well as deployment modularity and flexibility for different domain-specific configurations. These packages have a consistent environment yet are tailored to domain and role-based needs of network engineers, developers and operators.

  • The Base Edition, which includes a scalable and multi-vendor SDN protocol based on OSGi, the latest (and backward compatible) OpenFlow 1.3 Plugin and Protocol Library, OVSDB, NetConf/Yang model driver SDN and Java-based YANG tooling for model-driven development.
  • The Virtualization Edition (which includes the Base Edition) and adds Affinity Metadata Service (essentially APIs to express workload relationships and service levels), Defense4All (DDoS detection & mitigation), Open DOVE, VTN, OpenStack Neutron NorthBound API support and a virtual tenant network offering.
  • The Service Provider Edition (again, including the Base Edition) that also offers the Metadata Services and Defense4All but includes BGP-LS and PCEP, LISP Flow Mapping and SNMP4SDN to manage routers, gateways switches.

More information can be found on the website with regards to the releases and projects themselves.

I want to stress the importance of how well the vision has been delivered to date. I’ve been involved in multiple standards-bodies and in open source discussions in the past but this is truly one of the largest undertakings I’ve seen come together in my entire career. OpenDaylight developers have been coding day and night to get this release out the door and it’s amazing to see the collaboration and coherency of the team as we unite to deliver on the industry’s first cross-vendor SDN and NfV Platform. In addition and frequently not mentioned is that many of the protocols listed in the Editions above are also standardized at organizations like the IETF during the same period. Code and specs at the same time. It’s been a long time since rough consensus and running code has been the norm.

Over here at Cisco we’re fully committed to OpenDaylight. We’re currently using it as a core component in our WAN Orchestration offering for service providers to allow intelligent network placement and automated capacity and workload planning. The ACI team (formerly Insieme) collaborated with IBM, Midokura and Plexxi to create a project in OpenDaylight that creates a northbound API that can set policy and be used across a wide range of network devices. And of course we’re bringing components of the OpenDaylight codebase into our own controllers and ensuring application portability for customers, partners and developers alike. From this I would expect to see more code donations going into the community moving forward as well. We made several announcements last week about our campus/branch controller that includes OpenDaylight technology.

At the end of the day an open source project is only as strong as its developers, its community and its code. As we as a community move forward with OpenDaylight I expect it to become stronger with more members joining with new project proposals as new code contributors coming onboard from different industries as well. As I look at our roadmap and upcoming release schedule I’m pumped for what’s next and so happy the community has catalyzed a developer community around networking.

Please do visit the site, download the code and take Hydrogen for a test-drive. We want to hear feedback on what we can make better, what features to add or how you’re going to utilize it. Moreover, we’d love you to participate. It’s a kick-ass community and I think you’ll have fun and the best part; you’ll see your hard work unleashed on the Internet and across multiple communities too.

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My Top 7 Predictions for Open Source in 2014

My 2014 predictions are finally complete.  If Open Source equals collaboration or credibility, 2013 has been nothing short of spectacular.  As an eternal optimist, I believe 2014 will be even better:

  1. Big data’s biggest play will be in meatspace, not cyberspace.  There is just so much data we produce and give away, great opportunity for analytics in the real world.
  2. Privacy and security will become ever more important, particularly using Open Source, not closed. Paradoxically, this is actually good news as Open Source shows us again, transparency wins and just as we see in biological systems, the most robust mechanisms do so with fewer secrets than we think.
  3. The rise of “fog” computing as a consequence of the Internet of Things (IoT) will unfortunately be driven by fashion for now (wearable computers), it will make us think again what have we done to give up our data and start reading #1 and #2 above with a different and more open mind. Again!
  4. Virtualization will enter the biggest year yet in networking.  Just like the hypervisor rode Moore’s Law in server virtualization and found a neat application in #2 above, a different breed of projects like OpenDaylight will emerge. But the drama is a bit more challenging because the network scales very differently than CPU and memory, it is a much more challenging problem. Thus, networking vendors embracing Open Source may fare well.
  5. Those that didn’t quite “get” Open Source as the ultimate development model will re-discover it as Inner Source (ACM, April 1999), as the only long-term viable development model.  Or so they think, as the glamor of new-style Open Source projects (OpenStack, OpenDaylight, AllSeen) with big budgets, big marketing, big drama, may in fact be too seductive.  Only those that truly understand the two key things that make an Open Source project successful will endure.
  6. AI recently morphed will make a comeback, not just robotics, but something different AI did not anticipate a generation ago, something one calls cognitive computing, perhaps indeed the third era in computing!  The story of Watson going beyond obliterating Jeopardy contestants, looking to open up and find commercial applications, is a truly remarkable thing to observe in our lifespan.  This may in fact be a much more noble use of big data analytics (and other key Open Source projects) than #1 above. But can it exist without it?
  7. Finally, Gen Z developers discover Open Source and embrace it just like their Millennials (Gen Y) predecessors. The level of sophistication and interaction rises and projects ranging from Bitcoin to qCraft become intriguing, presenting a different kind of challenge.  More importantly, the previous generation can now begin to relax knowing the gap is closing, the ultimate development model is in good hands, and can begin to give back more than ever before. Ah, the beauty of Open Source…

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Speaking proposal submissions for OpenStack Summit – Voting is Open!

Cisco celebrated OpenStack’s 3rd birthday recently by releasing the Cisco OpenStack Installer for Grizzly. This blog post has more details.

The OpenStack foundation organizes a four-day OpenStack Summit every six months for contributors, enterprise users, service providers, application developers and ecosystem members. It facilitates the community to gather, discuss and present on several different streams ranging from keynote presentations and general sessions to workshops and developer sessions for planning the next OpenStack release. The next OpenStack Summit will be held in Hong Kong from November 5th to the 8th 2013 at the Asia World-Expo. The number of attendees for the Summit is expected to be around 5000 people.  More information on the Summit and how you can register to attend is available here.

Speaking proposals are submitted by the community from anyone with an idea or topic they would like to present. The proposals are voted on by the community to secure a slot in session track. Submissions for the OpenStack summit general sessions closed on July 31st 2013 and are now available for vote.

As compared to the Portland summit that had 250 proposal submissions [you can view session videos from OpenStack Portland Summit here, the Hong Kong summit has more than 600 submissions. There are a lot of great proposals but only the best and most popular will make it to the Summit. The approved sessions typically get recorded and are available for viewing online as well.

Cisco’s OpenStack team submitted several proposals that highlight our involvement and contributions to OpenStack. The table below lists the proposals along with a link to the abstract and speaker details.

Products & Services
Technical Deep Dive
Apps on OpenStack
Getting Started
Community Building
Related OSS Projects

Community voting is open now and if you are interested in any (or all) of the above proposals, please vote for them here. The voting is open until Sunday, August 25th 2013. Please note that you do need to be an OpenStack Community member in order to vote; If you are not currently a member, you can easily register for membership via the OpenStack website.

Stay tuned for more updates, as we get closer to the OpenStack summit.

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Why I Chose the Open Source Model I did for OpenDaylight

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!

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