SDN strife: Big Switch pulls back from OpenDaylight

Jun 7, 2013

Back in the day 'disruption' was a comparatively easy game to play. The 'soon to be disrupted' and their big customers would sit back complacently, airily dismissing & dissing whatever approach or technology was rapidly bearing down on them... until it was too late. Not any more.

Today's incumbents are just as likely to set about disrupting the would-be disrupters - nobody gets caught napping anymore.

Which is why it might appear to observers of the SDN scene that the recent establishment of OpenDaylight (see - SDN: a story that will run and run was just such an example of anti-disruption in action: a consortium of big incumbents all getting together (along with some key disruptors) to develop a common framework and approach to SDN.

Reading not too far between the lines, that appears to be what Big Switch, SDN pioneer and founding member of OpenDaylight, has now perceived as well.

It's just announced in its blog post (by CEO Guido Appenzeller) that it's going to resign its expensive ($1 million per year and big commitment of personnel) founders Platinum seat on OpenDaylight because the open sourcing process, central to OpenDaylight, hasn't gone as promised, he claims.

According to Guido the company is not backing away from the concept: "We are more than ever convinced that Open Source will be a central part of SDN. Having a widely used platform upon which to build applications would be a boon for the user community and developers. This is what excited us at the beginning, and was why we joined. However the development of such a platform needs to be community based, and it needs to be a meritocracy. While some of the members on the board have the right intentions, overall we don't feel that OpenDaylight as an organization is there yet."

At issue was the adoption of the key central SDN controller code. Right from the outset, says Guildo, the consensus was to merge the Floodlight (Big Switch's code) and the Cisco code bases and establish "a clean, new repository as the starting point. In the end, the leadership of ODL claimed “consensus” was reached to start the project with the Cisco controller as the base repository, despite broad community advocacy to start from a neutral repository – not an incumbent vendor’s."

So big switch has decided to take its ball and go home - at least for now. It might come back and play tomorrow if the things improve but until then it's going to remain an observing member of OpenDaylight to monitor progress.

See our interview with Big Switch CTO, Rob Sherwood, below.

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