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Is there an SDN open source alternative to NSX?

VMware's NSX and Cisco's ACI platforms have gotten the most attention in the SDN space, but is there room for open source alternatives?

Software-defined networking (SDN) requires a stable and flexible platform for creating policies, managing devices,...

and integrating other management platforms, such as OpenStack for cloud deployments. VMware's NSX and Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) are two of the more notable SDN platforms, but OpenDaylight is an emerging SDN open source framework that is vying for a place as a viable alternative. Behind OpenDaylight is a collection of networking vendors, including founding platinum members such as Cisco, Citrix, IBM, Microsoft and Red Hat.

Although OpenDaylight doesn't apply a virtualization layer like NSX, OpenDaylight touts a modular, scalable, resilient, multiprotocol framework that works across many different network compositions and architectures.

It provides RESTful APIs that allow a variety of modular services to be invoked and chained together across network devices. Core services in OpenDaylight's third (Lithium) release include a topology manager, stats manager, switch manager and host tracker. OpenFlow and Open vSwitch Database Management Protocol plug-ins allow the control of vSwitch agents that support OpenStack VMs.

OpenDaylight includes 16 modular services ranging from LISP, VPN and reservation services to L2 switch and NIC modules and more. Another 14 plug-ins can extend OpenDaylight with HTTP, SNMP, OpFlex (an open policy protocol), control and provisioning of wireless access points and other functionality as needed to support the enterprise network.

Major networking players are paying attention to OpenDaylight. Brocade now provides a Vyatta SDN controller based on OpenDaylight, and Extreme Networks has announced an SDN orchestration platform based on OpenDaylight. The Lithium release of OpenDaylight will eventually be embedded in other commercial network products along with the open platform for network functions virtualization.

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