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ConteXtream adopts OpenDaylight as new NFV SDN controller

When carriers demand open NFV SDN technology, ConteXtream replaces its proprietary SDN controller with OpenDaylight Helium.

SDN software vendor ConteXtream is replacing its core, proprietary SDN controller with the open source controller developed by the OpenDaylight Project.

ConteXtream markets its ConteXnet SDN software as an overlay for service providers, particularly mobile carriers. The product increasingly has seen traction as a platform for orchestrating and connecting virtual network functions (VNF) in network functions virtualization (NFV) environments. ConteXtream will gradually migrate to existing customers to OpenDaylight as its core NFV SDN controller.

ConteXtream, based in Santa Clara, Calif., is a member of OpenDaylight, and it has already contributed its LISP-based, mapping and service-chaining software to the project, a key element of NFV implementations.

Carriers want open technology for NFV SDN

"Carriers want some control over innovation and they are not going to adopt proprietary technology because they've been burned by it," said Anshu Agarwal, ConteXtream's vice president of marketing. "That's why it was important for us to move to a platform that we could contribute to and leverage. The reason we picked OpenDaylight was because I think it's the most vendor-neutral and carrier-supported."

Service providers are definitely looking for open-networking software in NFV today, said Sue Rudd, director of service provider analysis at Strategy Analytics, based in Newton, Mass.

"I would suspect that service providers are asking for a truly open, mix-and-match solution," Rudd said. "Most people find that it may be more expensive to maintain [than proprietary networking], but many vendors will have a version [of open source] that is optimized. When you are a small player, it pays to be the guy who can fit in with all the other players [by following] the open standards."

To swap its proprietary controller for OpenDaylight's, ConteXtream has retooled the rest of its software to plug into the open APIs developed by the OpenDaylight Project. The rest of ConteXtream's technology -- including its management and orchestration brokers, its flow-handler interfaces, its data-plane software, its VNFs and its mapping and data-modeling software -- will remain proprietary but integrated with OpenDaylight. This gives carriers the option to swap out NFV SDN controllers or use ConteXtream, depending on their changing requirements.

"OpenDaylight does open up more flexibility for the services they can support," said Paul Parker-Johnson, practice lead for cloud computing and virtual infrastructure at ACG Research, based in Gilbert, Ariz.

Such an open source controller will allow carriers to push their NFV implementations into new areas, especially given the momentum behind OpenDaylight as a de facto open standard.

"If there is a range of policy enforcement or packet inspection or security appliances -- virtual appliances -- that a large mobile operator wants to deploy even farther out into the mobile network, even out to LTE base stations, [the carrier's] implementation could be a lot more flexible by adopting and integrating OpenDaylight's service abstraction layer in parallel with supporting service chaining as part of the forwarding logic in OpenDaylight," Parker-Johnson said.

ConteXtream also highlighted some NFV use cases it is starting to support with early customers and proofs of concept. These include virtual Gi-LAN, IMS service virtualization, session border controller federation and virtual evolved packet core. Comcast is using ConteXtream for IMS service virtualization. GrameenPhone, a Bangladeshi mobile carrier and subsidiary of Norway-based global carrier Telenor Group, is using the technology for elements of virtual Gi-LAN.

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