ONF Offers OpenDaylight Support in Latest Atrium SDN Stack

The embrace of the OpenDaylight SDN controller follows the support of the ONOS controller in the first release of the Atrium software last year.


Open Networking Foundation officials are hoping to accelerate the adoption of network virtualization by including support for the OpenDaylight SDN controller in the latest release of its open-source Atrium software distribution.

The organization on Feb. 16 released Atrium 2016/A, a collection of integrated, open-source components that together comprise an SDN software stack that vendors can use when developing their SDN offerings. With the initial release—Atrium 2015/A—in June 2015, the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) included support for the open-source controller from the Open Network Operating System (ONOS), a consortium launched by the ON.Lab.

Including support for the OpenDaylight (OPD) controller in the latest Atrium release will give developers and vendors more flexibility in developing network virtualization software offerings, and give end users more options as they lay out their plans to migrate to an SDN environment. When the ONF announced the first Atrium release last year, the group said it would support the OpenDaylight controller, ONF Executive Director Dan Pitt told eWEEK.

"And now we're doing so," Pitt said. "We're trying to make SDN easy, available and adoptable."

SDN and network-functions virtualization (NFV) promise to bring greater flexibility, affordability, programmability and affordability to network infrastructures. They remove the control plane and network jobs—like firewalls, routing and load balancing—from the underlying hardware and put it into software that can run on less expensive commodity servers and other systems.

Though it's been talked about for several years, SDN to date has been adopted primarily by hyperscale data center operators and larger enterprises, with most companies still in the testing phase. However, the market is expected to grow fast. IDC analysts believe the space will grow 53.9 percent a year between 2014 and 2020, when it will be worth almost $12.5 billion. A recent survey by QuinStreet Enterprise—publisher of eWEEK—found that 49 percent of the 466 respondents said they are either using SDN technologies or plan to use them in the next 12 to 24 months. Another 25 percent are considering SDN, but have yet to set up a timetable.

Over the last few years, a number of open-source industry consortiums have come together to help drive the adoption of SDN. Along with OpenDaylight, ONOS and ONF, there also is the Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV), among others. There has been concern that the multiple efforts could create too much fragmentation within the industry, but moves like ONF's have helped allay some of those fears.

"ONF is not biased to one controller or another OS controller," Bithika Khargharia, director of product and community management for the group and principal architect of solutions and innovation at Extreme Networks, told eWEEK. "We've been very careful we don't pick sides."

The ONF is incorporating OpenDaylight into the Atrium router, which in the new release is built on the OpenDaylight framework and controls OpenFlow hardware switches using the open-source implementation of the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) in the Quagga routing software suite.

The flow objectives and device drivers are implemented in the OpenDaylight Device Identification and Driver Module (DIDM), which enables the Atrium router to work across disparate OpenFlow v1.3 hardware.

"Including OpenDaylight integration within Atrium 2016/A provides greater opportunities for operators and vendors to adopt open SDN architectures," OpenDaylight Executive Director Neela Jacques said in a statement.

The ONF also is improving the scalability and stability of the ONOS Atrium 2015/A version and including experimental support for the Interior Gateway Protocol (IGP) after testing is done in North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

In addition, Atrium 2016/A includes support for leaf-spine network architectures, which essentially enables a single controller to manage multiple switches. The Layer 2/3 Clos network fabric was built on Open Compute Project (OCP) hardware and with contributions from such organizations as Brocade, Accton and ON.Lab. The fabric can scale to 16 racks, and will soon be in field trials with a major operator, ONF officials said.