Open Source SDN Control: To DIY or NOT to DIY

In the world of networking, the landscape for Software-Defined Controllers is changing. The industry is moving away from pre-integrated hardware/software solutions with proprietary control and data plane-integrated solutions to open, standards-based, disaggregated networks that enable automation and adaptability. This technology evolution brings the world of Open Source tools into mainstream networking; transforming it the same way Linux did in the data center many years ago. The data center teams implementing Linux taught us that although open source provides DIY and perceptions of “free”, reality tells a different story. We’ve seen this story play out... many times, both in failure and success.

DIY seems like a good idea, BUT

Culture of DIY is pervasive and frequently viable, BUT
The internet creates a Do-It-Yourself mecca with YouTube and millions of blogs, videos, and people only a type or a speak away with a solution to almost every problem we face. Add to that the incredible library of open source software and the insatiable drive of the market to deliver solutions now for less, makes a compelling case for building solutions in-house. For a home project or even a small point solution for a very specific and low scale project, DIY is probably a great way to go. In fact, I do it all the time when I am woodworking, fixing something small around the house, writing a script to make my daily work easier, etc…, but I always call a professional when the job involves something large in scale, very complex or it is going to cost me as much to do it myself. You want to build a house, you call a contractor. You want someone with the experience, knowledge, and training to create the right output. Doing this takes time. Open source is an incredible tool, but it is just that, a tool. You need many tools in your toolbox to build a house. Until you learn to properly use the open source and broader software tools you need to succeed, building a house is dangerous. 

Deliver more now with less, BUT
The costs may seem lower at face value, however, the cost of maintaining a complex software solution typically ends up being exponential. There are several factors that contribute to the cost of software:

  1. Requirements/Design - relatively easy
  2. Development - the easy part
  3. Deploy - usually easy - until it breaks (scale, bugs, …)
  4. Testing - a little harder
  5. Documentation - the tedious, hard part
  6. Maintenance - the hardest part
  7. Road Map - what, why - because users/customers always want more

The cost breakdown for the software development lifecycle depends on complexity (obviously), but some sources say that the development and deployment costs are roughly 30-40% of a solution, while ongoing maintenance accounts for 60-70%. If that case that isn’t scary enough:

  • Dead Lines - NOW - but we need more resources for that - uh-oh costs rising
  • Security - really, forgot to consider that - hire an expert - expensive
  • Scale - it needs to handle how much - we need to re-architect for that - $$$

Unless your core business is software development, let the pros help
As I said earlier, I will happily DIY replace a plumbing fixture or build a bookshelf, but when it comes to expensive keystone projects, I call a professional. The same decisions may be applied to software solutions. It doesn’t mean that you avoid all software development. Software is an integral part of the SDN revolution and network automation requires development. Focus your efforts on the business logic and value add coding using a platform solution designed for extension and adaptation. Find an open source partner to get your foundation right!

Find an Open Source Partner, instead of a Vendor:
In my experience, vendors want to just sell something and move on to the next customer. Although they will claim to listen, the product seldom incorporates your requests, doesn’t allow customization by you and is slow to respond to support issues. Partners, on the other hand, want to sell you a solution, work with you ongoing to enhance the solution, respond quickly to issues, and ensure you are able to extend the solution as needed without them.

I recommend investigating solutions and vendors that solve your particular problem and identify those that are partners committed to your success. That is a broad statement and not always easy to determine, however, some suggestions to achieve the goal:

  • Web Research - well duh!
  • Discussion, Presentation, and Demo - naturally
  • Talk to Existing Customers - of course
  • Lab Trial of the Best - Expect to pay for this!

Key Values of an Open Source Partner:

  • Supported, Tested, Documented Product
  • Contribute Your Features and Solutions Upstream (when desired)
  • Benefit from Community Contributions (never fork from source)
  • Aligned philosophically on the power of an open, multi-vendor network

Okay, it’s not a simple process, but if you identified a true partner, they will deliver a solution configured/customized to your requirements. They will expect your participation in the project, demonstrate and document each step in the process, and ensure you are trained and self-sufficient when it is over.

Why is Lumina the SDN partner of choice?

Our SDN Controller, based on OpenDaylight, delivers an:
Open source, unforked SDN Controller that scales from the smallest to the largest networks in the world. A partner with years of proven development and experience delivering SDN Control in the most complex networks. Lumina delivers Open Source OpenDaylight wrapped with features and benefits like:

  1. Pure-Play, Un-Forked Distribution
  2. Hardened for Ease of Deployment & Usability
    1. Increased Test Coverage (compatibility, scale) +30%
    2. Simple, automatable installer
    3. Curated components packaging (rpm, deb)
    4. Secure - ongoing vulnerability scans and patches
  3. Improved Operations Support
    1. Unified control cross network
    2. Accelerated bug fix cadence & hotfixes
  4. Extensibility & Scalability
    1. Designed for unlimited horizontal scale
    2. Simple development framework in any language
    3. Dev kits & user guides
  5. Added Intelligence
    1. Driven by app/business logic
    2. End-to-end real-time telematics 
    3. Ready-to-Deploy Carrier-grade Applications 
  6. Carrier-Grade Supportability - Years of Experience 
    1. Open source leadership, software expertise
    2. Experience from multiple Tier-1 transformations

To see a demo of how the Lumina distribution of OpenDaylight can accelerate your digital transformation, contact us here and reference our Solutions page for specific capabilities of the Lumina portfolio.

Learn more about our open source SDN solutions.