Intel Goes Platinum for OpenDaylight Project (ODL)

This blog is a summary of a conversation between Uri Elzur, Director of SDN architecture and OpenDaylight Board Member and Chris Buerger, Technologist within Intel’s Software-Defined Networking Division (SDND) marketing team. It outlines the motivation and plans driving Intel’s decision to increase its OpenDaylight Project membership to Platinum.

Chris: Intel has been a member of the OpenDaylight Project since its inception. We are now announcing a significant increase in our membership level to Platinum. Explain the reasoning behind the decision to raise Intel’s investment into ODL.

Uri: At Intel, we have been outlining our vision for Software Defined Infrastructure or SDI. This vision is taking a new approach to developing data center infrastructure to make it more agile so it works in a more automatic fashion to better meet the requirements that shape the data centers of tomorrow.  Some of us fondly call the force shaping it  ‘cloudification. ’

SDI is uniquely meeting customer needs at both the top and the bottom line. Top line refers to greater agility and speed to develop data center scale applications, which in turn allows accelerated revenue generation across a larger number of our customers as well as the introduction of new, cloud-centric business models. At the same time, SDI also uniquely allows for the reduction of total cost of ownership for both service providers and their end-user customers. Service Providers are under intense competitive pressure to reduce cost, be it the cost of a unit of compute or, at a higher level, cost for a unit of application where an application includes compute, network, and storage.

Mapping this back to SDN and OpenDaylight, it is important to Intel to help our customers to quickly and efficiently benefit from this new infrastructure. To do that, we need to support both open and closed source efforts. OpenDaylight represents an open source community that has been very successful in attracting a set of industry contributors and that has also started to attract large end-user customers.

At this point in time, we see our efforts across multiple SDI layers that also include OpenStack and OpenVSwitch in addition to OpenDaylight come together in a coordinated way. This allows us to expose platform capabilities all the way to the top of the SDI stack. For example, by allowing applications to ‘talk back’ to the infrastructure to express their needs and intents, we are leveraging the capabilities of the SDN controller to optimally enable Network Function Virtualization workloads on standard high volume servers. This gives cloud service operators, telecommunication providers and enterprise users’ superior support for these critical services, including SLA, latency and jitter control, and support for higher bandwidths like 40 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet. Among open source SDN controllers, OpenDaylight has shown healthy growth based on the successful application of open source principles such as meritocracy. We are excited about the opportunities to work with the OpenDaylight community as part of our wider SDI vision.

Chris: As Intel’s representative on the Board of the OpenDaylight Project, what do you envision as the key areas of technical engagement for Intel in 2015?

Uri: Keeping our customer needs and the wider SDI vision in mind, our first priority is to really exercise the pieces that the community has put together in OpenDaylight on standard high volume servers to deliver the benefits of SDN to end-users. We are also going to work with our community partners as well as end-user customers to identify, validate, and enhance workloads that are important to them – i.e. optimize the hardware and software on our platform to better support them. For example, take a look at the work being done in the recently announced OPNFV initiative. We are planning to take use cases from there and help the community optimize the low-level mechanisms that are needed in an SDN controller and further to the

Chris:  The enablement of a vibrant ecosystem of contributors and end-users is critical to the success of open source projects. What role do you see Intel playing in further accelerating the proliferation of ODL?

Uri: We think Intel has a lot to bring to the table in terms of making the ODL community even more successful. Intel has relationships with customers in all of the market segments where an SDN controller will be used. We have also demonstrated our ability to create environments where the industry can test drive cutting edge new technologies before they go to market. For SDI, for example we created the Intel® Cloud Builders and Intel® Network Builders ecosystem initiatives to not only test the SDN controller, but couple it with a more complete and realistic software stack (SDI stack) and a set of particular workloads as well as Intel platform enhancements to establish performance, scalability and interoperability best practices for complex data center systems. And bringing this experience to OpenDaylight accelerates the enablement of our SDI vision.

Chris:  Software Defined Networking and Network Function Virtualization capabilities are defined, enabled and commercialized on the basis of a multitude of standards and open source initiatives. How do you see Intel’s ODL engagement fitting within the wider efforts to contribute to SDN- and NFV-driven network transformation?

Uri: Our answer to this question has multiple parts. One change that we have seen over the last few months is a shift in organizations such as ETSI NFV that, while always considering SDN to be reasonably important, never placed much emphasis on the SDN controller. This has changed. The ETSI NFV community has come to terms with the idea that if you want scalability, a rich set of features, automation and service agility, then you need an SDN controller such as OpenDaylight as part of the solution stack. And we believe that ETSI represents a community that wants to use the combination of OpenDaylight, OpenStack and a scalable, high-performing virtual switch on low cost, high volume server platforms.

We have also observed some interesting dynamics between open source and standards developing organizations. What we are witnessing is that open source is becoming the lingua franca, a blueprint of how interested developers demonstrate their ideas to the rest of the industry as well as their customers. Open source promotes interoperability, promotes collaboration between people working together to get to working code and then it is presented to the standard bodies. What excites us about OpenDaylight is that as a project it has also been very successful in working with both OpenStack and OpenVswitch, incorporating standards such as Openflow and OVSDB. Moreover, interesting new work on service chaining and policies is happening in both OpenDaylight as well as OpenStack. And all of these initiatives align with network management modelling schemas coming out of the IETF and TOSCA.

All of these initiatives are creating a working software defined infrastructure that is automated and that helps to achieve the top and bottom line objectives, we mentioned. OpenDaylight is a central component to Intel’s SDI vision and we are excited about the possibilities that we can achieve together.