ONF Announces Winner of OpenFlow Driver Competition – Exclusive Chat with Winners

Open Networking Foundation (ONF)  today announced the winner of the industry’s first competition to create an open-source OpenFlow™ driver. Check out the project’s home page here:  http://opennetworkingfoundation.github.io/libfluid/

The competition was launched at last year’s Open Networking Summit, and after a long process of evaluation and testing the submitted entries, all seven of the ONF  judges voted to award Brazil-based CPqD the grand prize of $50,000, naming Flowgrammable’s and Infoblox’s submissions as runners-up.

To test the nine submissions, the ONF worked with Luxoft, which provided its Twister test framework, as well as a team of engineers and product experts. Drivers were tested for conformance with OpenFlow 1.0 and OpenFlow 1.3.

CPqD’s entry was selected because of its fit with the specifications of the OpenFlow protocol, as well as the criteria laid down by the ONF in the creation of the competition, says Rick Bauer, the ONF’s technical program manager.

The goal of the competition was to create a driver code base (like OpenSSL) that could be used in both SDN controllers as well as switches, says ONF Executive Director Dan Pitt. The intention is to have both network equipment vendors and independent software vendors use the code base in their products, so that they don’t have to reinvent a component that’s not going to bring them any differentiation.

That philosophy of supplying the commonplace pieces of an implementation is shared by the OpenDaylight Project. It’s possible the ONF will submit the driver to OpenDaylight; that hasn’t happened mainly because the timing was off. (As you can see, the contest’s ending happened after the OpenDaylight Hydrogen release).

The CPqD OpenFlow Driver development team consists of Eder Fernandes and Allan Vidal, both researchers at CPqD. The team’s technical advisors were Marcos Salvador, now SDN evangelist and R&D leader at National Research and Education Network (RNP), and Christian Rothenberg, now assistant professor at the University of Campinas (UNICAMP).

SDNCentral managed to catch up with both Eder and Allan on the showfloor at ONS 2014. When asked what the most challenging part of writing the code was, Allan and Eder both chimed in: “getting the specifications just right and the multi-table capabilities going was probably the most difficult.” And in terms of what they felt was the differentiation of their submission versus the other submission candidates, they suggested that they had spent a lot of time “handcrafting the parsing of the messages to ensure the the performance was good, and that the separation of their design between a connection management module and the message handling module was a good abstraction.” Both Eder and Allan spent about 3-4 months working on the project and are looking to continue their efforts, working on improved troubleshooting and logging as one of the top priority items post announcement.

CPqD, Flowgrammable, and Infoblox will be recognized for their accomplishments in a special presentation at the ONF Member Workday on March 6, a members-only event taking place in Santa Clara, Calif.