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The fascinating journey of OpenDaylightOpenDaylight has had a fascinating journey and is one of the most long lived open source SDNs. This year marks the 10 year anniversary of OpenDaylight so we at The Linux Foundation Networking thought that it would be interesting to share how it has grown to be one of the most important open source projects in networking and how we think it will continue to evolve in the future.

The fascinating journey of OpenDaylight

The beginnings of SDN

Linux Foundation Networking

OpenDaylight’s story began in the world of software-defined networking (SDN), which started gaining momentum around a decade ago. Even though OpenDaylight did not start things, it played a key role in creating a critical mass for SDN technologies.

The project was launched under The Linux Foundation to focus on SDN and related technologies and quickly gathered a devoted community where meritocracy and contributions continue to matter above all to this day.

OpenDaylight emerged as an open source community and a meritocracy where contributions matter above all. It was launched under the Linux Foundation, focusing on SDN and anything related to it. The contributors were responsible for committing to their projects and fulfilling the deliverables without any external intervention.

Initial Challenges and Evolution

In the early stages, defining what SDN is and how it works posed significant challenges. Different partial solutions, pieces of the puzzle, and individual use cases made SDN a complex yet promising realm. One of the critical developments that helped solve these challenges was the evolution of YANG. Before YANG, configuration data lacked clear definitions. YANG tackled this problem, providing a clear definition of configuration and its intent.

In 2012, two significant things happened that pushed SDN forward:

  1. OpenFlow 1.3 was introduced, allowing for OpenFlow to be used in production. 
  2. The initial code drop of Cisco got incorporated into a Linux Foundation private repository, marking the beginning of OpenDaylight as a community aimed at covering every aspect of SDN.

Over time, various changes were made, especially in the areas of automation and documentation. The core focus was on building use cases and strengthening the developer community. Projects around BGP, PSAP, and others were introduced, enabling integration within service provider (NSP) networks.

However, migration to Apache Karaf 4 revealed a significant amount of technical debt that needed to be handled. This meant OpenDaylight needed more refinement and redefinition of its scope which would eventually stabilize it.

What’s in store for the future?

As it stands, OpenDaylight is at the forefront of network programmability and automation. Its scalability improvements, in particular, have had significant impacts since 2015. The years ahead will see a continuation of this trend as they strive to further enhance the project’s scalability and flush out remaining legacy code. However there is a potentially painful revision coming up that will aim to remove all compatibility layers, even though they’re not causing any pressing issues at present. This suggests an ambition to ensure OpenDaylight remains streamlined, modern, and free of unnecessary burdens that could affect performance or compatibility with emerging technologies.

Moreover, OpenDaylight aims to transition to a more  microservices oriented architecture, which is a significant shift in its design philosophy. A microservices-based architecture, often used in conjunction with containerization technologies like Docker and orchestration platforms like Kubernetes, will enable OpenDaylight to be even more modular and scalable. This architectural shift will make contributing to OpenDaylight much more manageable, especially for bug fixes given the decoupling of services in such a setup.

Forging ahead

While the path ahead isn’t without its own challenges, OpenDaylight’s past decade shows a project that isn’t afraid to adapt and change, a quality that will be essential in the coming years; OpenDaylight’s continued relevance will depend on its ability to adapt and innovate, something that the OpenDaylight community seems more than prepared to do. So, while the future is uncertain, one thing is clear – OpenDaylight is more than ready to face whatever lies ahead, forging a path forward in the world of open-source SDN solutions.

The future for OpenDaylight is looking both exciting and challenging. Given the complexities and changing nature of network environments, the continued relevance of OpenDaylight hinges on its ability to evolve and adapt to new industry trends and standards.

About OpenDaylight

OpenDaylight (ODL) is a modular open platform for customizing and automating networks of any size and scale. To learn more about OpenDaylight including how to contribute to the project, please visit and subscribe to the newsletter.

About The Linux Foundation Networking

To learn more about open source networking projects under the LF Networking umbrella, please visit the LF Networking website. Follow us on LinkedIn (LFNetworking LinkedIn and ONE Summit by LFN LinkedIn) and Twitter so you don’t miss out on what’s happening in the world of open source networking. Bookmark our YouTube channel to watch all recorded sessions from LF Networking events.