It takes a village to raise a child, and it will take an open, energetic and innovative community to move networking from today’s outdated foundation of purpose-built hardware to a new world defined by software.
That’s why I’m rolling up my sleeves and volunteering to serve as chairman of the new Software Leadership Council (SLC) of the Open Networking Foundation (ONF). On Feb. 18, ONF put out a press release unveiling the new Open Source SDN web site and community, which will be guided by the SLC.
Why does this matter?
The ONF has done ground-breaking work in developing bedrock technology for Software Defined Networking (SDN), including the OpenFlow standard. But the ONF and its supporters – mostly large tech companies and service providers – can’t do it alone.
The vibrant but relatively small open source SDN communities have so far been focused on esoteric technical components such as controllers with only a handful of network management use-cases. The OpenDaylight project and the Open Network Operating System are great first steps in open source SDN, along with a handful of lesser-known open source SDN controllers that are intended for specific applications. The next step is creating a practical and comprehensive SDN distribution (think Linux distributions such as Ubuntu and Red Hat) that is open source, and therefore free from vendor lock-in, and embraces the entire application community eco-system that will enable both known and emerging applications that can benefit from SDN. This requires a full stack of control plane software, data plane software, management tools, debuggers and more.
This can’t happen without the education of application developers and the contribution of hundreds, if not thousands, of engineers and software developers from around the world – much as other open-source projects such as Linux and Apache have succeeded through the collective intellectual effort of massive communities.
The SLC’s goal is building up the Open Source SDN community to deliver that full stack. There’s no better way to learn what works than by releasing more and more open source software – putting the “S” in SDN – and then seeing how the market responds.
If you’re interested in the future of networking, I encourage you to visit opensourcesdn.org and join me in becoming part of the future.