SDN & OpenFlow World Congress to provide a dozen Proof of Concepts of multi-vendor NFV

Martyn Warwick
By Martyn Warwick

Oct 8, 2014

via Flickr © BobMical (CC BY 2.0)

via Flickr © BobMical (CC BY 2.0)

Next week, (Tuesday, October 14 through Friday, October 17) the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress will meet in Dusseldorf, Germany. The meeting is particularly important because it will be the principal opportunity to examine developments, debate the issues and see the reality of SDN and NFV. 2015 will be the year that SDN and NFV will demonstrate their value to the entire market - carriers, data centres and enterprises - in real-world trials, but could also well be the year in which the first commercial deployments will become operational.

Attendees at the upcoming "knowledge exchange" will be able to see for themselves just how far SDN and NFV have come since the first SDN & OpenFlow World Congress took place in 2012. It is no exaggeration to say that in the brief period since that first gathering the comms world has changed almost beyond recognition as information about, and enthusiasm for, the real potential of the two technologies has spread like wildfire through the global industry.

Thus, Dusseldorf will feature the ETSI NFV PoC (Proof of Concepts) Zone. With no fewer than 12 PoCs officially accepted by the NFV ISG, this will the biggest showcase of multi-vendor NFV yet to be brought together in one venue. TelecomTV will be there in force and will be reporting on all the news and developments to allow those unable to be there in personto  gain first-hand knowledge and insight about the current reality of these critical technologies.

To coincide with the event, The OpenDaylight Project (which seems to have a thing about gases) has announced the release of "Helium" its second open source platform designed to advance SDN and NFV architecture control. Helium includes eleven new features and protocols, all of which originate with the network infrastructure vendor community.

SDN and NFV are supremely important to the "new IP" networks of the near future and open source is now accepted as being the most sensible and viable route to the adoption of the new technologies. It is also vital to fostering the interoperability which will be the catalyst to widespread deployments of SDN and NFV solutions.

According to the OpenDaylight Project (which is managed by the Linux Foundation) Helium’s integration of multi-vendor protocols, applications and technologies make it the most flexible and interoperable platform currently available.

First 'Hydrogen. Now 'Helium". From the elemental to the noble

The new release is an iterative increment based on Open Daylight's original code that was released back in February this year. That was called "Hydrogen". Helium'a new features include "dlux" which is described as "an optimised user interface." It reads and sounds like "Deluxe: but is actually stands for 'OpenDaylight User Experience'. Not many people know that, as Michael Caine would say.

The provision of acronyms, initials, acrostics and cryptic crossword clues so beloved of the industry continues apace. Thus also included in Helium is LBaaS or "Load Balancing-as-a-Service".

The OpenDaylight Project is a consortium of network equipment vendors, including Cisco, Ericsson, HP, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Juniper, NEC and ZTE. Each one can originate and provide both coding and functionality to each release, and can even go so far as to design proprietary functions and solutions - provided they are demonstrated to be able to interoperate seamlessly with OpenDaylight.

People often wonder why members of the OpenDaylight Project (after all some serious global companies that, historically, have jealously and zealously protected their proprietary de facto 'standards', are members of the Project) would seek to promote open SDN standards when they might actually pose a potential threat to proprietary networking. Well, part of Helium'a purpose is to assuage and ameliorate such concerns.

According to the Linux Foundation the most important factor to bear in mind is the way OpenDaylight integrates with OpenStack, "including significant improvements in the Open vSwitch Database Integration project, and a technology preview of advanced OpenStack features such as Security Groups, Distributed Virtual Router and Load Balancing-as-a-Service," These functions will be part and parcel of "Juno," the OpenStack release planned for this month.

There is also open source "competition" from OpenFlow, which is software-defined networking standard revolving around programming flow tables for switches and routers.

Neela Jacques, executive director of OpenDaylight, says the Project is working to ensure that its governance process will remain open and even-handed. He says, "The primary way you ensure no one company can oversteer is by building diversity and ensuring the right governance models."

Mr. Jacques also says that the OpenStack user community in general and "especially the telecommunications carriers," have provided vital input for several important changes in Helium 2.0. He says, "Many are in the planning stages of re-architecting their networks around SDN and NFV and see OpenStack and OpenDaylight as key technologies to leverage. They definitely want to ensure that the two projects dovetail handing-off cleanly to each other." That's good to know.

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