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Open source software officially dates back to 1998, although as Wikipedia points out, the idea of freely available software goes back at least to 1983.

Open networking technologies such OpenFlow, OpenStack and the Linux Foundation’s OpenDaylight project are steadily pushing their way into the enterprise. The problem with “open” is how open are a number of solutions being offered? Many include elements of OpenFlow, for example, but as a package the software ends up locking the customer in to a vendor.

In a column for Network Computing, Bob Laliberte of the Enterprise Strategy Group argues that CIOs have to decide whether they will settle for “open enough” or truly open solutions.

His focus is on OpenDaylight, a software controller platform for building software defined networks (SND) and network fuctions virtualization (NFV) running on bare metal switches or servers. SDN controllers are growing like weeds, these days: This week Big Switch Networks announced one, and everyone from Cisco Systems to VMware has one. Many are part of the ODL project, hoping to contribute to and use the code in their own products.

Whether that creates true open networking platforms that CIOs hope will emerge, however, is a question.

“It appears that many of the network and technology vendors participating in ODL want to leverage the open source code to deliver a hardened, and perhaps even differentiated, version for their customers,” writes Laliberte. The question becomes: Is that “open” enough for those organizations that have made it a long-term strategy to leverage open source software and industry-standard hardware for their network?” he writes.

Of course, one problem with a CIO embracing an open platform is who to go after if things go wrong. On the other hand, if an open platform is what is wanted then at the very least IT leaders have to let vendors know in no uncertain terms, and be willing to put their spending behind it.

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  • http://www.plexxi.com Michael Bushong (@mbushong)

    Interestingly, the open source movement suffers a bit from not acting like a company. Someone has to get open source projects into deployments. In a company, you have a sales team that is trained on a product and pushes it into deployments (or at least POCs). With open source, you need the community to help out here. But who figures out how to sell it? How to position it? And what sales guy bring it up as a key offering if they are not monetized on it? We are going to have to see an expansion beyond the early adopters and tinkerers. It could be that the integrators (who are likely not the same as the developers) will play a role. Right now, who is that?

    Mike Bushong (@mbushong)
    Plexxi