Interview: executive director OpenDaylight Project: “SDN and NFV adoption is low because we have major disagreements within the industry.”

Neela Jacques, executive director for the OpenDaylight Project
Neela Jacques, executive director for the OpenDaylight Project

Neela Jacques, executive director for the OpenDaylight Project is speaking in the Virtualisation stream on Day Two of the Broadband World Forum, taking place on the 21st – 23rd October 2014 at the RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre, Amsterdam. Here she gives us her view on why NFV is being held back and how this can best be resolved.

Why are the standards needed to progress SDN and NFV and what role does the OpenDaylight Project play in determining these?

We dovetail very well with standards efforts but people need actual software to solve the challenge of SDN and NFV. Standards bodies are good at describing the challenges and potential solutions, but code is the living, breathing organism that will be used to fix it and should have the ability to adapt and evolve as the challenge does. Open and collaborative software development is uniquely tuned to do this which is why open source solutions are becoming de facto standards. It’s an easier and faster way to solve an industry challenge. Because it’s open, anyone can come to the table to offer ideas and help shape the scope.

Why is open source the best approach for creating SDN and NFV standards?

The current rate of SDN and NFV adoption is low because we have major disagreements within the industry over the ‘best’ solution and the result is that we have duplicative, incompatible technologies on the market. For us to see widespread adoption of SDN and NFV we have two options. The first option is that we pick a vendor solution that exists on the market today as the key SDN platform. The second option is where I believe the industry is moving and where open source has a role to play.

An open source project like OpenDaylight has no stake except to solve an industry challenge. There are over 220 developers participating in our community who are working across company lines to deliver a common SDN and NFV software platform that will benefit all. They bring differing opinions and ideas to the table and the best code wins. That’s why open source communities often produce better quality code that doesn’t degrade over time. It has the ability to evolve rapidly as new technologies and ideas come to light rather than relying on a single company’s vision. We’re internalizing the key debates happening within the industry and finding resolution through a robust code base, not duplicative technologies or fragmentation.

What are the benefits that SDN and NFV will bring operators?

Operators are looking to move network functions to software where they once relied on hardware, which requires a level of programmability that wasn’t previously possible. Imagine being able to innovate independently of software and hardware – that those things won’t hold you back from immediately pushing out new services to your customers. That’s the promise of SDN and NFV. Having an open, common platform at the core enables operators to be in the driver’s seat for innovation, scalability and performance at the network-level.

What are the main challenges to operators implementing SDN and NFV?

Operators ultimately want control of their networks, which is why SDN and NFV are enticing. Their choices so far have been between different vendor platforms that aren’t compatible with each other and don’t allow for easy migration if that need arises. Security is also a top concern for operators. As the industry evolves to adopt open technologies, the landscape is changing with more choice available than ever before. There are almost a dozen networking controllers that are compatible with or use OpenDaylight at their core. Each is building a unique set of services, offerings and support around these controllers, which gives operators the ability to pick and choose from a broader menu of solutions that they know will work well together and give them much more control of their networks. As security is a top concern for operators, the OpenDaylight community and industry are addressing it head-on to ensure that it’s as robust as it needs to be.

What are you most looking forward to with regard to attending the Broadband World Forum?

I’m really interested in hearing from people about what their key challenges have been to adopting SDN and NFV and how OpenDaylight can help with that transition. With such a diverse crowd I’m excited to learn about people’s different approaches to network transformation, challenges and solutions they’re seeking.

The Broadband World Forum is taking place on the 21st – 23rd October 2014 at the RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre, Amsterdam. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

 

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