The OpenDaylight Project has grown rapidly since it launched in 2013, both in scale and scope.
The industry consortium, created by the likes of Cisco Systems, Microsoft and IBM and about two dozen other tech vendors, initially was focused on creating an open framework for software-defined networking (SDN) deployments.
Two years later, the OpenDaylight group now includes 47 member vendors and more than 460 developers, and—as its latest software release illustrates—it's broadening its reach beyond enterprises with an increasing focus on the telecommunications space and network-functions virtualization (NFV). For example, the Lithium release announced June 29 includes service function chaining (SFC) features, which enables organizations to tie together virtualized network services—such as firewalls and load balancers—in a network to create a service chain, a key capability for NFV.
OpenDaylight officials expect Lithium to be embedded in more than 20 commercial products and solutions and be included in the Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) releases, another industry consortium effort launched last year to create an open-source reference architecture that will help accelerate the adoption of NFV in enterprise and service provider data centers.
The OpenDaylight Project also in recent weeks has highlighted how various carriers and service providers—such as AT&T, Orange and Comcast—have been able to leverage OpenDaylight solutions in their environments. For example, AT&T is using OpenDaylight in its Network on Demand project in more than 100 markets and wants to open source more than 50 percent of its code by 2020. For its part, Orange has several proof-of-concept (PoC) projects underway using the technology.
At the same time, a blog on the OpenDaylight Web site talks about how the efforts of OpenDaylight and OPNFV dovetail.
Telcos are aggressively embracing NFV, which essentially enables organizations to take networking tasks—firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention, routing, load balancing—traditionally tied to complex networking hardware and put them into software that can run on less expensive systems. This helps create networks that are more programmable, agile and automated, enabling the carriers to more quickly respond to changing customer demands and spin out services. It also will better enable them to push back at over-the-top (OTT) mobile app vendors.
The idea of NFV was first raised in a document published by a specifications group within the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) 2012. The group has since released other papers regarding NFV, including definitions and use cases.
"Carriers have realized they're at a critical juncture," OpenDaylight Executive Director Neela Jacques told eWEEK, noting the rapid adoption of NFV technologies.
However, beyond the carriers, Lithium brings with it a broad range of new features enable both telcos and enterprises to more widely use NFV and SDN in production deployments, said Jacques and Mathieu Lemay, president and CEO at Inocybe Technologies and a contributor to the OpenDaylight code.
The first release, Hydrogen, released in early 2014, was essentially a proof point that the consortium could function and put together a workable offering. Helium, released eight months later, offered a greater number of capabilities, including deeper integration with the OpenStack open-source cloud orchestration stack.
"What we saw … was a wide range of company building products on top of it," Jacques said.
Lithium expands the OpenDaylight technology in such areas as scalability, security, automation and interoperability. Included in the new release is native support for the OpenStack Neutron framework, as well as such features as SFC, virtual tenant networking and group-based policy, making it easier to policies, including customized service chains for application network services.
On the security front, the unified secure channel functionality enables secure communication between OpenDaylight and networking equipment, while times series data repository (for collecting and analyzing network activity), device identification and drive management (for discovering, managing and automating existing infrastructure hardware), persistence (for preserving application-specific data in case of a disaster), and Topology Processing Framework (for greater visibility into the network) expands what the release can do.
Security in Lithium is crucial "to make it really ready for real-time deployments," Lemay said.
Network intent composition lets the OpenDaylight controller manage and direct network services and resources by laying out the intent for network policies, and application layer traffic optimization offers simplified network views and services. There also are six new protocols to support the growing number of use cases, touching on such areas as the Internet of things (IoT) and wireless access points.
The group also is adding a distributed virtual router feature.
Lithium will be a centerpiece of the upcoming second annual OpenDaylight Summit, which will open July 27 in Santa Clara, Calif.