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OpenDaylight: Where's the love?

One year on the battle for acceptance continues

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Almost a year after OpenDaylight's introduction was deluged with scepticism, the open source SDN consortium is still struggling to improve industry perception despite meeting many of its initial goals.

The consortium founded by Cisco and IBM has released its "Hydrogen" code base, grown a diverse community of developers, almost doubled its membership and has a small handful of adopters -- very small if you don't count its founders. But the organisation is still struggling for universal acceptance and credibility even after winning some doubters during the past 10 months.

"We went through a period where there was a lot of doubt," says Anees Shaikh, network architect at Google, who gave an update on OpenDaylight's progress during a session at this week's OpenDaylight Summit. "But in the end we convinced some of the doubters. The industry perception has been mixed but some folks are starting to become convinced of the viability of the project."

OpenDaylight's success to date is a mixed bag, according to the organisation's own yardsticks, which Shaikh reviewed during his talk. Shaikh's assessment was much more sober than the exuberant gushing of Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin, who declared during his opening day keynote that OpenDaylight was "on the right side of history" and that skeptics are not to be believed.

Skeptics are swayed by numbers, and Shaikh provided plenty of those. OpenDaylight's goals were to develop code, have it adopted and cultivate a community of developers. It also wanted to make naysayers into believers.

On the code front, OpenDaylight did "very well," Shaikh reports. OpenDaylight went from two projects in May 2013, to 16 in January 2014, with five pending.

The group generated over 1 million lines of code from 154 contributors. By comparison to other open source projects, statistics compiled by have OpenStack at  1.67 million lines of code from 1,974 contributors; CloudStack, has 1.5 million lines of code from 250 contributors; Eclipse has 2.67 million lines of code from 404 contributors; Floodlight has 97,000 lines of code from 52 contributors; and Juniper's OpenContrail controller has 258,000 lines of code from 53 contributors; and Contrail vRouter has 19,000 lines of code from 15 contributors.

The amount of controller code in OpenDaylight -- all contributed by founder Cisco -- has decreased from 92% at inception to about one-third of the code base now, Shaikh noted.

Adoption rates are a "good sign" but non-vendor acceptance still needs some work, according to Shaikh.  OpenDaylight membership has grown from 18 at its outset 10 months ago to 33 now. Cisco has productised OpenDaylight in its XNC Controller as has IBM in its SDN VE, which debuted this week.

Non-vendor users include the University of Kentucky, Taiwanese researcher ITRI, CableLabs, and a smattering of individual users and developers.

With that, Shaikh sought to shatter what he feels are misperceptions about OpenDaylight.

"I personally feel this accusation of vendor-driven, pay-to-play is unfair given the data we're seeing," Shaikh said. "But we'd love to have some service providers and financial services companies as members."

On the community goal, OpenDaylight has a large set of formal and non-affiliated members, and the diversity and number of its committers is increasing but needs more work, especially in the diversity of project-level committers, Shaikh said. Still, it's not a lot different from OpenStack's progression, he notes.

And on industry perception, OpenDaylight still has some work to do to convince the broader industry of to share Zemlin's bubbly exuberance. Shaikh gives the consortium a "mixed" grade on that.

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 27 years, 22 at Network World. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy.


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