Network admins want software-defined networking (SDN), they want it now, and they want it to be open source. That's the message from a survey commissioned recently by the OpenDaylight Project on current goals and adoption trends for SDN.

The survey results, released March 19 and titled "SDN, NFV, and Open Source: The Operator's View," made three key points clear, according to the OpenDaylight Project:

  1. Ninety-five percent of the networking professionals who responded want SDN solutions to be open source, because open source "represents to them greater choice, more functionality and interoperability, and lower costs."
  2. Networking admins see SDN as a solution to a variety of different challenges, including network security, network utilization, network deployment and operating expense.
  3. SDN adoption is already in progress, with more than half of the respondents reporting that they plan to deploy SDN solutions during the current calendar year, and 97 percent by 2015. Adoption is focused now primarily on integrating SDN into wide area networks (WANs) and data centers.

These results bode well for the open source community, which is heavily invested, through initiatives such as OpenDaylight (itself a collaborative project of the Linux Foundation), in making sure SDN standards and software remain open source as the technology continues to evolve.

But the battle is not over. As the report also noted, perceptions among some networking professionals that open source SDN could pose more security or deployment challenges than proprietary alternatives are tempering demand for solutions such as OpenDaylight. The project counters, however, that these are "outdated" worries that likely will dissipate in the same way as early criticisms over the security or reliability of other major open source projects, such as Linux and OpenStack.

"Given that today's open source is conceived and developed by teams of operators and suppliers and increasingly delivered via proven commercial integration, test, packaging, deployment and support models," open source SDN solutions enjoy a strong foundation for countering proprietary competition, the project contends.