An open source approach to software-defined networking (SDN) moved several steps closer this week to becoming a de facto standard.

The Linux Foundation announced that it has released a major update to Project OpenDaylight, an open source SDN platform. This was quickly followed by the formation of a new Open Platform for NFV Project, which is an open source effort to create mechanisms for deploying emerging Network Function Virtualization (NFV) software that promises to eliminate the need for many of the physical appliances that clutter networks today.

Vendor support for OpenDaylight

Neela Jacques, executive director of Project OpenDaylight says 11 vendors are building network controllers that use the OpenDaylight platform. Meanwhile, 39 vendors, including AT&T, Brocade, China Mobile, Cisco, Dell, Ericsson, HP, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Juniper Networks, NEC, Nokia Networks, NTT DOCOMO, Red Hat, Telecom Italia and Vodafone, have already signed up to support the Open Platform for NFV project that is creating a reference architecture for deploying Network Function Virtualization on top of an SDN platform.

Jacques says the Helium release of OpenDaylight is now more tightly integrated with the OpenStack cloud management framework. As part of that, the OpenDaylight Project has enhanced the Open vSwitch Database Integration project, and is providing a technology preview of advanced OpenStack features such as Security Groups, Distributed Virtual Router and Load Balancing-as-a-Service.

New UI for easier installation

In addition, Jacques says OpenDaylight sports a new user interface and a much simpler and customizable installation process. The OpenDaylight Project has also enhanced availability, clustering and security of the SDN platform, as well as strengthened and adding new protocol support for OpenFlow Table Type Patterns and PacketCable MultiMedia.

From a managed service provider perspective, the most significant development may be an application policy framework and tools for Service Function Chaining. In addition, MSPs can customize the SDN platform pretty much as they see fit using open source Apache Karaf containers.

Getting on board

Not every vendor is on board the open source SDN and NFV technology train just yet. But there is clearly enough critical mass in place for MSPs to start planning how to deploy and support these technologies. Just as significantly, the cost of deploying next-generation SDN and NFV platforms is going to be considerably less than it is today as the major players in the industry essentially come together to share research and development costs through The Linux Foundation.

The challenge, of course, will be figuring out just when these technologies are going to be actually mature enough to deploy in an actual production environment.