HP pivots, says open sourcing SDNs is right

HP pivots, says open sourcing SDNs is right

. "Our strategy is to drive an open ecosystem... and embrace open source as a way of getting things done"

Seven months after dismissing OpenDaylight, HP has raised its membership in the vendor-driven open source SDN consortium to its highest and most expensive tier.

HP is now a Platinum member of OpenDaylight, raising its status from a lower tier Silver member, which it has been since the consortium formed a little over a year ago. HP has upped its investment and participation in OpenDaylight because open source software-defined networking is "completely consistent" with what HP has been doing in terms of openness, interoperability and standards, says Sarwar Raza, director of Cloud networking and SDN, HP Networking.

"OpenDaylight is at a stage where the collaborative approach provides a great forum to promote interoperability and openness," Raza says. "Our strategy is to drive an open ecosystem... and embrace open source as a way of getting things done."

+ MORE ON NETWORK WORLD: Everyone wants open source SDNs +

What's interesting is that just last fall, HP dismissed open sourcing SDNs, and OpenDaylight. Ex-HPer Mike Banic had said when he was vice president of global marketing for HP Networking that open sourcing SDNs was "wrong" because it means passing the burden and investment of ensuring enterprise-class functionality, reliability and performance onto the customer.

And Bethany Mayer, formerly senior vice president and general manager of HP Networking (who has transitioned to a new role at the company), said at that time she didn't know why customers would use an OpenDaylight controller.

"Using an open source controller in the enterprise can be tricky and dangerous," Mayer said at last fall's Interop New York conference.

(Mayer's former role in HP Networking has reportedly been filled by Antonio Neri, previously senior vice president of technology services.)

Raza says HP's heightened role in OpenDaylight is not a reversal of the company's viewpoint on open source SDNs and OpenDaylight. Rather, Banic and Mayer's comments were misinterpreted.

"I think that those comments were taken out of context," Raza says, even though HP did not express such sentiments at the time they were published. "There is no fundamental shift on HP's part" with regard to open sourcing SDNs.Raza says there is nothing wrong with open source itself. But customers are not willing or comfortable with downloading an open source controller.

OpenDaylight is putting some commercial-grade enrichment on open source SDNs, Raza says.

"It's in commercial variants with quality assurance cycles and vendor backing," he says. "It's integrated and packaged instead of from the tree."

Raza says HP will also dedicate additional employee resources to OpenDaylight under its new Platinum membership. Its developers are already contributing to several OpenDaylight projects, including the core controller and the recently proposed Authentication, Authorization and Accounting (AAA) Service.

Raza says HP will look for other areas where its background in SDN controllers and applications can contribute to technical discussions and code.

As for SDN controllers, Raza says HP will continue to sell and enhance its own Virtual Application Networks SDN controller and software development kit, and will offer only a single product; not that and an OpenDaylight variant. HP will integrate the VAN controller with OpenDaylight to make it a "first class citizen" in an OpenDaylight environment, and make it and its features and applications part of the consortium's ecosystem.

For OpenDaylight, HP's raised profile means the consortium's work is making progress and on the up and up, project officials say. OpenDaylight has been viewed as having vendor interests in mind, and particular vendors at that, above all else.

"HP is a tremendous validation of how far we have come," says Neela Jacques, OpenDaylight executive director. "HP tracked our governance and did its due diligence. It's a statement that OpenDaylight is run right...and that decisions are made on technical merit and not anything else."

HP joins existing OpenDaylight Platinum members Brocade, Cisco, Citrix, Ericsson, IBM, Juniper, Microsoft and Red Hat. Raza will join OpenDaylight's board of directors, and David Lenrow, HP distinguished architect, will join OpenDaylight's Technical Steering Committee.

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 28 years, 23 at Network World. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy.

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