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Launching OpenContrail

By September 12, 2013Uncategorized

Why Open Source?

Open source has made significant strides in the enterprise and service provider market Enterprises see open source as leading innovation and quality rather than just being a low-cost alternative. From NYSE to Walmart, proprietary Unix and Windows servers in the business have been replaced over the last decade with Linux. As these enterprises migrate from managing individual servers or virtualized servers to a fully integrated system where servers, storage, and network appear as a pooled resource (aka Cloud), they are increasingly looking at breaking free from the shackles of proprietary stacks (that are not fully integrated) to open source stacks like Cloudstack, Openstack, etc.

Those looking at SDN are essentially tired of being locked into proprietary solutions that could not evolve fast enough to meet the automation and agility needs of the cloud. Even the genesis of Openflow at Stanford was in large part driven by lack of programmability within closed network operating systems from hardware vendors.

As the market evolves (from scale-up networking OS) to scale-out networking systems, our belief is that this is the inflection point where it makes a lot of sense for us to disrupt – not just from the technology point of view, but also from the commercial point of view. Looking at the need of our customers, dynamics of the industry, and our ability to accelerate the market transition, we came to believe that delivering a production-grade scale-out networking stack as an open source product will be a win-win for the market and Juniper. The great thing about broader adoption is that it creates a virtuous cycle of innovation and investment.

Why Now?

There are multiple efforts in the industry to drive towards an open source SDN controller. They are all geared towards solving the broader set of network agility and automation problem through programmability of the physical hardware using Openflow and/or other protocols. We were not convinced that none of these open source controllers would be able to deliver a production grade system (in the medium term) that would meet the immediate market need for Network Virtualization in Private/Public Cloud or Network Function Virtualization in Service Provider segment.

In addition, some of these initiatives like Floodlight are experimental controllers with their proprietary and closed source versions providing additional functionality like network virtualization, high availability, etc. No mission critical deployment can be done without critical features like high availability, etc.

As a result, we decided that delivering all the functionality of Juniper’s Contrail product in an open source way, through OpenContrail, will fill the void and the best time to make such a decision is at launch of the product. Juniper also intends to provide a commercially certified and supported release with a regular cadence that is built from the open source version.

Customer Benefits

One of the important considerations in open source software is licensing and it was clear to us that delivering OpenContrail through an unmodified Apache v2 version would be in the best interest of the customer – no lock-in to a proprietary stack and no restrictions in the right of use.

OpenContrail should be an obvious choice for any deployment of an open cloud orchestration system (OpenStack and Cloudstack). Through the Apache v2 license, it delivers:

  1. Control and Flexibility – unlike proprietary stacks, open-source allows customers to maintain control of the decisions on important aspects like upgrades, modifications, etc. The license allows users or any 3rd party to modify the software to meet the needs of your business without disclosure.
  2. Cost – There is no upfront cost and users can download both the source code and packaged binaries. Users only pay for commercially supported software if and when they need it.
  3. Reliability and Auditability – The visibility of the code means that you no longer have to make a leap of faith on our ability to keep the software secure and adhering to the standards. Open source software is also more reliable than proprietary stacks because there is more scrutiny and collaboration from the community. Effort is multiplied, work is shared, and we believe the collective result is superior.

Another major benefit of OpenContrail is that it leverages well known, scalable, and standards based networking protocols like BGP, MPLS, XMPP while embracing the cloud concepts of scale-out, elastic nosql databases, hypervisors, etc – it extends rather than marginalize the knowledge of networking professionals. We believe it brings the best of both worlds and bridges the domains of server and networking – You cannot lose in the world of OpenContrail!

– Ankur Singla