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Extreme Networks Chooses OpenDaylight Controller for SDN Platform

Company changes direction from previous support of OpenFlow and Open Networking Foundation, now viewed as a "competitor."

Less than three weeks after joining the software-defined networking (SDN) OpenDaylight project, Extreme Networks Inc. announced an SDN platform based on an OpenDaylight controller.

Two years ago, Extreme Networks had featured OpenFlow support in its Ethernet switches for SDN. OpenFlow is an SDN communications protocol championed by the Open Networking Foundation (ONF).

OpenDaylight -- with new partner Extreme Networks -- is an open platform for network programmability to foster SDN and network functions virtualization (NFV), operating under The Linux Foundation.

Now Extreme Networks positions the ONF as a "competitor" whose solutions are good only for new or "greenfield" implementations, while its own new solution doesn't require big upgrades and is suitable for existing or "brownfield" systems.

The ONF describes itself as a user-driven organization, as opposed to the supposedly vendor-driven OpenDaylight project.

The OpenDaylight controller page lists a Cisco Systems Inc. developer as the contact and 12 of the 17 committers are Cisco colleagues. Cisco is also an ONF member.

Extreme Networks vs. the competition
[Click on image for larger view.] Extreme Networks vs. the Competition (source: Extreme Networks Inc.)

While providing few details, Extreme Networks said its SDN platform is based on a "hardened" OpenDaylight controller, with added features for network management, network access control, application analytics and wireless controller functionality.

The company said its SDN platform maintains backward compatibility by using multi-vendor network infrastructure conforming to the OpenFlow standard and other open APIs.

"[The] Extreme Networks OpenDaylight-based API, software development kit (SDK) and developer community will enable customers to evolve with the network to keep pace with emerging security, wireless and converged SDN infrastructure," the company said.

The platform will feature controller support for both northbound and southbound APIs. Southbound APIs govern communication between a controller and a switch, while northbound APIs are concerned with the controller communicating with a datacenter automation or orchestration system. To that end, the Extreme Networks SDN platform will support the OpenStack cloud-based platform for northbound communication via the OpenDaylight controller.

This southbound/northbound strategies illustrate another difference between the ONF and OpenDaylight.

"ONF has resisted pressure to standardize a northbound API, because we feel a software interface like this is best arrived at through continued market experimentation," the organization has said. "One aspect of the OpenDaylight project is the development of a northbound API, and this is as it should be.

"Especially as an open source project, OpenDaylight will test and iterate on their northbound API with real code serving real applications and use cases. If it achieves widespread market adoption, that will validate its utility to users -- at least users of those applications and use cases."

That said, the ONF has formed a new Northbound Interfaces working group with the stated goal "to help develop concrete requirements, architecture and working code for northbound interfaces."

In addition to the OpenDaylight controller, Extreme Networks said its SDN platform will leverage its Purview network-powered analytics and optimization software and its NetSight management and automation product, along with API toolkits.

The company said it will give back to the community with expertise in network management, network access control, application analytics and wireless LAN technologies.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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