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Juniper Networks' OpenContrail software defined network joins The Linux Foundation

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The Linux Foundation is far more than just Linux. It’s also the home of many open-source networking projects such as the software-defined network (SDN) OpenDaylight, Open Platform for Network Function Virtualization (OPNFV), and Open Network Automation Program (ONAP). Now, networking power Juniper Networks has announced that OpenContrail, its open-source network virtualization cloud platform, will join the others as part of The Linux Foundation.

Juniper bought Contrail, an SDN company, in 2012. The company followed this up in 2013 by releasing its Juniper Contrail products as open source. Earlier this year, Juniper expanded the project’s governance to create an even more open, community-led effort to strengthen the project for its next growth phase. Adding this project to The Linux Foundation’s networking projects is meant to further OpenContrail’s objective of growing this NFV/SDN in cloud ecosystems.

Specifically, OpenContrail is a scalable network-virtualization control plane. It provides both feature-rich software-defined networking (SDN) and strong security. OpenContrail has been deployed to cloud service providers, telecom operators, and enterprise datacenters. There, it’s used to simplify operations and automate workload management across clouds.

OpenContrail doesn’t have as many backers as OpenDaylight. Of its two biggest supporters, AT&T and NTT, AT&T has been displeased with OpenContrail. Paul Carver, a principal member of AT&T’s technical staff working on SDN and NFV, recently told SDXCentral, “The biggest challenge with Contrail is the lack of [an open-source] community. I personally have not given up yet to get more non-Juniper people working on it. But it’s been a real uphill battle. The key takeaway is: the communities are what’s most important to us.”

Officially Juniper states that with The Linux Foundation in charge, Juniper believes that a community led open-source project will foster greater innovation. With AT&T’s attitude in mind, it’s clear another major motivation was keeping its biggest customer happy.

Speaking for myself, I hope this move will also bring more cohesion to the multiple open-source networking projects currently existing. I cover this stuff for a living and I have trouble keeping track of which project does what. Both SDN and NFV are transforming how high-end networking in telecoms and datacenters are done. The sooner they’re rationalized to prevent more software sprawl, the better.

Arpit Joshipura, The Linux Foundation’s VP of networking and orchestration, said in a statement, “We are excited at the prospect of our growing global community being able to broadly adopt, manage, and integrate OpenContrail to manage and secure diverse cloud environments. Having OpenContrail as an addition to our open-source projects will be instrumental in achieving the level of technology advancements our community has become known for.”

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