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Open Networking foundation (ONF) Executive Director on the group's achievements, goals

John Dix | Sept. 16, 2014
Dan Pitt explains where the standards stand.

So if I compare it to Linux. Linux is in my computer, in my car, it's in a million things outside of the server room. In the same way I think a large percentage of OpenDaylight will be used and leveraged that way.  You will have a few people who grab the code, compile it themselves and deploy it in their environment, but mostly for a proof of concept (POC).  If an end user hears about SDN and thinks it's great, they might find themselves needing to POC 15 different solutions. Do I need an overlay?  Well, you've got to look at three or four overlays out there because they all do things differently. And if you want to figure out how to use OpenFlow, well there are different flavors of OpenFlow, so you're going to pull a couple of different ones. 

So with something like OpenDaylight you can very quickly kick the tires on SDN itself.

"I want to experience a couple different flavors of overlays.  I want to experience what it's like programming flows as opposed to doing things with BGP the way that I have been doing it."  So that's the immediate end-user use case. But frankly Hydrogen is early in its maturity cycle, and therefore I wouldn't recommend it. 

Cisco is a core supporter of OpenDaylight, but then says it thinks some intelligence should remain in the switch.  Doesn't that fly in the face of the bigger-picture SDN. 
There's a huge debate going on in the industry. In general, everybody, including Cisco, agrees some level of intelligence needs to be centralized.  The debate is how much intelligence? 

One side says all the intelligence is in the center, while the other says some intelligence is in the center, but still a lot of execution intelligence is at the edge in the switches and routers. And that raises the next question, which is, if you have some level of centralized intelligence, is it imperative or not? Are you keeping all flow information centralized and then simply giving instructions, or are you instead capturing the needs of application, communicating that to the fabric, and letting the fabric make optimization decisions?

I think this is the defining debate of our industry for this decade. Will it go all one way or the other?  Or will it be a combination of both?  I don't think anybody knows. And unfortunately, most of the brilliant people in the industry are all employed by companies that have a lot to gain from one model versus the other, so the views they're espousing are incredibly self-serving. 

But everybody agrees the network has to change. We ran a survey and found something like 95% of people think they're going to deploy SDN by the end of next year, which is ludicrous if you think of SDN the way that I do.  So there's tremendous desire, yet to some extent the market is stalled because of the risk of picking the wrong solution, and this is even for the big guys. It's even riskier for the little guys. 


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