Top 10 reasons to use open source software-defined networking
By Gary Newbold December 3, 2014
- SDN growth hit by lack of standardisation and awareness among IT decision makers
- The open source path promises better quality code and higher security, ROI, etc.
SOFTWARE-defined networking (SDN) is emerging as one of the fastest growing segments of open source software (OSS), which in itself is now firmly entrenched in the enterprise IT world.
SDN simplifies IT network configuration and management by decoupling control from the physical network infrastructure.
The SDN market is projected to surge from US$360 million to US$3.52 billion in 2018. Even in the Asia-Pacific region, open SDN is becoming an increasingly important topic for both vendors and end-user organisations alike, according to the Open Networking Foundation.
The global SDN market seems to be primarily driven by the increasing need for mobility and efficient network infrastructure. The increasing demand for cloud services is also supporting the growth of the global SDN market.
Yet, there is a relatively shy implementation of the solution by IT staff in organisations. A number of them are dabbling in it, but they still have many questions surrounding the deployment of this new technology.
Some of the factors inhibiting the growth of this market include lack of standardisation and awareness among IT decision makers. But here are 10 reasons why organisations should consider the adoption of open source SDN.
1) Better quality code
Eighty percent of open software users chose open source SDN based on quality. Removing company boundaries and allowing any developer to participate, debate, compromise and inspire each other is why code written in open source communities is of higher quality and doesn’t degrade over time.
Linux has become the benchmark for code quality: Open source software quality outpaced proprietary code for the first time in 2013.
2) Rapid innovation
Imagine rolling out services and products without worrying about the network. Having more network control via open SDN allows developers to innovate independent of hardware and software. The ability to build new products or services increases dramatically to focus on what matters most.
Companies get involved in collaborative software development to advance business objectives and to benefit from industry innovation.
According to the Linux Foundation Collaborative Trends Report, 91% of business managers and executives surveyed ruled collaborative software development from somewhat to very important to their business.
Nearly 50% said they got involved in collaborative development because it allows them to innovate or help transform their industry.
Although security might once have been considered a weakness in open software, it certainly is not today.
According to the 2014 Future of Open Source – 8th Annual Survey, 72% said they chose open source specifically because of security. This relates to the transparency of open source as well as the scrutiny it receives from users.
Open source has the power to build communities which believe in the technologies and are passionate about seeing them come to light.
The many are smarter than the few – anyone can participate regardless of affiliation, adding to the collective brain trust to overcome an industry's toughest challenges. It makes individuals and companies smarter, as they benefit from a much larger R&D effort.
The Linux Foundation Collaborative Trends Report also found that 50% of corporations contribute to open source, and 56% say they will increase their contributions this year. Individual developers and businesses benefit from the trend towards collaboration.
Users are not beholden to any one vendor's roadmap, vision or timeline. If they need to change a feature, migrate or roll out new services, they can do that by participating in the open source community and being part of the change.
The ability to access source code, add features, and fix code is the fourth-ranked reason why users choose to use open software. Ninety-five percent want open source in their SDN and Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) solutions.
It offers them greater choice, more functionality and interoperability, and lower costs, according to the OpenDaylight Survey 2014.
While 63% of technology startups fail within four years, open source is not tied to any one individual vendor. Over 1,000 companies have contributed to Linux.
The open source development model allows software to adapt quickly to changing times. Legacy and emerging protocols can be implemented if so desired.
Open source SDN can evolve as the industry does.
There is no silver bullet in networking. A variety of solutions are used to solve different needs. With open SDN, users can pick what works for them versus the one-size-fits-all approach of proprietary software.
Today there are over a million open source projects with over 100 billion lines of code, contributed by 10 million people.
Most businesses use solutions from more than one vendor to fill their needs. A common, open source platform means solutions can be interoperable and offer the choice of the right solution versus getting locked-in to a single solution that doesn’t meet all needs.
9) De facto standards
By speeding software development cycles, open source solutions become de facto standards that dovetail nicely with standards efforts. Over 100 additional companies join the Linux effort each year.
10) Maximise ROI
Open source costs less up front, and is easier to scale over time versus a proprietary system that adds more cost and complexity as it grows.
So avoid costly vendor lock-in. The 2014 Future of Open Source found this can be a prime reason for moving to open source software. According the survey, 68% find that open source helps to improve efficiency and lower costs.
Gary Newbold is Asia Pacific vice president at Extreme Networks.
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