At the end of the day, OpenDaylight is going to make it easier to test and deploy SDN applications and will move the industry forward, but there hasn’t been an official code drop yet. Even when there is, there are still so many unknowns --- will vendors try and sell their commercial controller even if ODP supports the same functionality, will they support a downloaded version of ODP, or have a vendor-ish distribution of OpenDaylight? We just don’t know, so it’s too early to tell how this will pan out in the general controller market – that includes Big Switch’s controller and every other controller to be fair.
What do we know for certain about Big Switch?
Big Switch is shipping real products and promoting white-box gear with their open SDN solution – you can see their partnership with Accton (see: ODM) on the BSN partner website. If I had to guess, Big Tap is doing the best for them in terms of sales/revenue, just because it’s not touching production and should be easier to deploy. Rather than deploy Gigamon or higher priced OpenFlow switches for a monitoring, non-production touching network, they promote white-box. While there is much debate on the future of white-box in Enterprise production data centers, one thing is for certain, if you ever want to go this route or even try it in the future, you’ll probably want to get familiar with the process of deploying a white-box solution, e.g., what software is used, who provides the software, who provides the OpenFlow agents, how difficult is it to manage, and do you have the right skillsets and tools?
Reading between the lines
What’s interesting is what is really at stake in the world of matrix switching. Big Tap plus white-box hardware is more than just 5, 10, or even 20 TOR switches with a controller and an application. If vendors lose deals to Big Switch for a monitoring network, it may not even be a sizeable loss and hey, it’s not even a production network, so should vendors care? Absolutely. The greater losses *could* end up being seen down the road.
If smart engineers are using Big Tap to fix a real problem like network visibility (TAP/SPAN aggregation), they are indirectly getting access and learning a ton on ODM white-box switches all while not touching production.
These same switches can run Cumulus Linux. And even if Big Switch’s future doesn’t look bright from the outside, they are playing a key role in a much bigger movement that is just getting started in the Enterprise.
Of course, we’ll have to wait and see what will actually happen over the next 18 months to see how this will all unfold.