HP says open sourcing SDNs is wrong

Juniper, others making controllers free missing the point; don't know why to use OpenDaylight

NEW YORK -- Vendors such as Juniper Networks that are open sourcing their SDN controllers are pursuing a wrongheaded strategy that misses the point of the technology, HP officials said this week.

At the Interop conference and exhibition in New York where HP announced its new SDN SDK and App Store, HP officials were asked why the company was not following suit with what Juniper and OpenDaylight are doing with SDNs, and what appears to be a trend in the industry: making controllers freely available through open source outlets.

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“Vendors open sourcing controllers have it wrong,” said Mike Banic, vice president of global marketing for HP Networking. “A vendor has to validate and provide services for” enterprise-class SDNs.

Vendors open sourcing controllers have it wrong.

— Mike Banic, vice president of global marketing for HP Networking

“Juniper is missing where the value is,” Banic said.

That value resides in the applications that utilize the SDN controller to automate operations in an SDN, and align network operations to services the application needs, HP says. Open sourcing the SDN controller is passing the burden and investment of ensuring enterprise-class functionality, reliability and performance onto the customer, the company says.

“You’re shifting a new burden out there,” Banic says. “Customers need something they can develop on.”

Juniper also offers a commercial version of its Contrail SDN controller for a cost that the company will provide integration services and support for. The open source version of Contrail will only receive updates, Juniper has said.

What Juniper and HP have in common in SDNs is not knowing where, when or why customers would use the OpenDaylight open source SDN controller and framework. Both companies are members of OpenDaylight – Juniper is a highest-ranking Platinum member – but both companies shrug off its potential impact on customer SDN deployments.

“I don’t know why (customers) would use the OpenDaylight controller,” said Bethany Mayer, senior vice president and general manager of HP Networking. “Using an open source controller in the enterprise can be tricky and dangerous.”    

HP is participating in OpenDaylight to help standardize a northbound API between the network infrastructure and orchestration systems to assist in the software programmability of the network, Mayer and Banic said.

HP is charging only $500 for its Virtual Application Network SDN Controller. Juniper is charging $1,000 to $1,700 for the commercial version of Contrail.

HP also says its SDN approach differs from other vendors’ in that HP is looking for cross-enterprise programmability to facilitate operational automation. Other vendors are targeting the data center or cloud providers, or both.

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.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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