How Does the OpenDaylight Project Compare?

I’ve been in my new role for a couple weeks now and have been struck by something I’ve discovered: the vibrancy of the OpenDaylight developer community. I have spent the last week starting to engage with a number of the developers on the project and every single one has shared a passion for the project that I didn’t quite expect. OpenDaylight has brought together a community of people who share one vision--to change networking. Not to serve vendor interests. The results speak for themselves. In open source, code rules.

To put OpenDaylight’s progress in perspective, let me compare and contrast community stats from a few efforts you’re probably aware of. These graphs represent the first 12 months of contributors and commits for Hadoop, MySQL, OpenDaylight, OpenStack and the Xen Project as compiled from Ohloh.

These projects all had different starts, but one thing is clear: OpenDaylight is off to a great start when compared with some of the most successful open source projects in the past decade. Where typically it takes three or more years for a project to get noticed, OpenDaylight has attracted more than a hundred developers in its first seven months with more than a dozen code contributions being included in the first release. It’s been hailed as one of five open source platforms that will define 2014 and appeared on CIO’s top 10 networking startups to watch.

Fast forward several years and let’s look at stats from the last 12 months for these projects. Just seven months in, OpenDaylight seems to be holding its own against several established projects.

None of us can predict the future, and that's why open source software and collaborative development have become so powerful and why so many companies today in the networking industry are betting on this approach. They're willing to consider a different model than what they’ve been used to, to work together build a common framework on top of which products and services are built faster and better. Competition doesn’t disappear, it just shifts to other parts of the stack. Leveraging open source for the core SDN/NFV platform gives companies the flexibility to move fast and adapt in an emerging space while ensuring a high level of interoperability. The smartest developers take what they can from open platforms and then build amazing things on top (who wants to waste time building something from scratch where you can grab a building block?). Think Zuckerberg and Facebook or even Apple, which uses open source software in the iPhone. And, of course there is Linux. To take an example from our industry, how many years would it have taken for Cumulus Networks to release a product if they didn’t have Linux to build upon?

Early in any open source project that has a such a bold vision as OpenDaylight there will be questions about whether or not it will succeed. These kinds of questions are normal and valid, but the more I interact with our developers the more I feel confident we have a chance to have a huge impact on the industry. Given the caliber of talent and degree of commitment I am seeing in the project, I am highly optimistic we will overcome the challenges that face us.

Data Source: Ohloh as of November 20, 2013

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