By Dr. Pedro A. Aranda Gutiérrez, Telefónica

OpenDaylight recently started a new User Advisory Group to help bring insights from network operators more directly to the developer community. The OpenDaylight (ODL) team invited me to become a founding member in this group, and I am honored for the opportunity to participate and help bring the insights that Telefónica has had using ODL to share with the community so they understand our key successes and challenges.

At Telefónica, I work in the global CTO organization where my team is focused on technology exploration and finding the next big innovations in telecommunications technologies. This focus has led us to investigate and experiment with ODL. There are several areas where Telefónica R&D efforts intersect with the ODL community, for example, Telefónica has been a key innovator in NFV technologies and currently holds leadership positions in the ETSI NFV ISG. We are currently conducting research on Horizon 2020 and FP7 telecom initiatives where SDN offers significant promise. Telefónica also plays a leading role in the Net-IDE project which seeks to provide a common development environment and toolset for SDN. In all these areas we have had the opportunity to learn and experiment with ODL and will outline them here.

What Brought us to OpenDaylight 

One of the main ways we have been experimenting with ODL is to aggregate control and visibility of several different SDN controllers to provide centralized administration and a global network view. The world of SDN includes a lot of different controllers and it may be desirable to use different controllers for different use cases. However using several different controllers can result in many of the same problems experienced in legacy environments, as different controllers can have distinct application environments, APIs and management tools. Figure 1 below highlights one of the ways we have been using ODL to address this challenge:

Figure 1: What Brought Telefonica to OpenDaylight

The flexibility of the ODL platform helps enable it to become a central point of visibility and control for a multitude of controllers or various other types of network devices. In our testing we have found that especially as many other controllers are focused on more specific use cases, ODL is currently the best controller available for SDN server control.

Net-IDE

Another key area in which we have been testing ODL is with the Net-IDE project. This project is focused on creating a single integrated development environment for composing SDN applications. Figure 2 below highlights the core problem that Net-IDE is seeking to address – there are a number of different SDN controllers already available, many of which have different application environments and different tools making it much more difficult for application developers to create value with SDN.

Figure 2: Net-IDE Solution Scope

OpenDaylight aims to solve a lot of these challenges by helping to bring together disparate applications onto a common platform that leverages a common set of APIs and developer tools. As such it is a natural fit to align with Net-IDE goals and we expect that with further development that ODL will be of great value towards advancing the goals of the Net-IDE project.

Learning OpenDaylight

One thing we struggled with was the steep learning curve for OpenDaylight. In its latest Lithium release, for example, ODL officially deprecated its AD-SAL and moved entirely towards the model-driven SAL (MD-SAL) architecture. While we are excited about the possibilities of a model-driven architecture, our experience as early adopters left us craving better tutorials, documentation and tools.

Sharing this experience highlighted one of the key values that the Advisory Group is bringing to the community, as other members shared their experiences and suggested solutions. Being able to meet with other Advisory Group members, such as AT&T, Comcast, Orange and many others in a small and manageable context is enabling us to identify and address challenges that we are experiencing with ODL and then to share our learning, experience and code with the community.

Moving forward with OpenDaylight

Although it is early and ODL is still young, our experience thus far has been very encouraging. Therefore, Telefónica  is happy to support OpenDaylight and plans to actively contribute to ongoing projects. The Net-IDE group is currently proposing an official project for ODL to continue investigating the possibilities of further collaboration.

The ODL Advisory Group brings great value to Telefónica, and we hope that by participating in these and similar initiatives, we can give back to the community and contribute to ODL and to the many great open source projects that drive industry innovation and economics towards a brighter future.