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Extreme Networks is building an OpenDaylight controller

Extreme Networks is building an OpenDaylight controller that will support a wide variety of northbound and southbound interfaces.

Extreme Networks announced plans to develop a commercial version of the open source SDN controller created by the OpenDaylight Project.

Extreme is the first mainstream network infrastructure vendor to fully embrace an OpenDaylight controller, said Andrew Lerner, research director for Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner.

"It lends a lot of credibility to the OpenDaylight controller," he said. While some switching vendors -- such as Cisco and Juniper Networks -- have incorporated pieces of OpenDaylight into their software products, or contributed pieces of their own products to OpenDaylight, Extreme is the first switching vendor to offer and support a hardened commercial version of the entire OpenDaylight software stack, Lerner said.

Extreme, which recently joined the OpenDaylight Project as a Silver member, will release its OpenDaylight controller by the end of this year.

Extreme OpenDaylight controller goes beyond the data center

Extreme's SDN vision looks beyond the data center. Its OpenDaylight-based controller will control and manage campus networks and the wireless LAN infrastructure in addition to the data center. Extreme will also embed modules into the controller based on its wireless analytics, wireless control, security and policy control technologies.

"[Extreme] wants to deliver [open source software] that [it] can support, much like HP did with its Helion release distribution of OpenStack," said Bob Laliberte, senior analyst with Milford, Massachusetts-based Enterprise Strategy Group. Extreme is acknowledging that many SDN pioneers want the flexibility of an open source approach, but they also want the support of an enterprise-class vendor, he said.

OpenDaylight controller: Extreme is southbound-agnostic

The modularity of OpenDaylight will play into Extreme's strategy to offer an incremental approach to SDN, Lerner said. OpenDaylight supports OpenFlow as a southbound interface, and Extreme already offers OpenFlow on a number of its switches. But Extreme is also angling to provide investment protection for non-OpenFlow switches by emphasizing support for other interfaces on the controller, such as XML, NETCONF and SNMP -- protocols that a controller can use to manage and configure a large number of legacy network gear, either from Extreme or a competitor.

"It's about supporting open standards and open source, and providing the flexibility to enable other APIs [application programming interfaces], both northbound and southbound," said Bob Noel, senior director of solutions marketing at Extreme. "OpenDaylight supports OpenFlow but it also supports other southbound technologies and mechanisms to communicate southbound from a controller. OpenFlow is one option. Moving forward, we'll see what protocols end up winning."

While OpenDaylight provides a foundation for an SDN controller, Extreme will have to demonstrate the added value it can offer to network engineers, said Brad Casemore, research director with Framingham, Massachusetts-based IDC.

"There is an increased level of activity in OpenDaylight, and not just from the usual suspects who kicked it off. That will help the controller framework develop over time to become more robust and extensible," he said. "But the [Hydrogen] release that came out [from OpenDaylight] earlier this year -- I just don't know how many companies will feel comfortable about putting it into production. It still has maturation to do."

In addition to developing an OpenDaylight controller, Extreme is also combining its API developer community XKit with the OneFabric community it inherited with its recent acquisition of Enterasys Networks. The company said it is trying to create an SDN application marketplace through this move.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Shamus McGillicuddy, news director or follow him on Twitter @ShamusTT.

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