You’ve probably heard that the networking hardware vendors decided to pool resources to create an open-source OpenFlow controller. Just in case you’re wondering whether they lost their mind (no, they didn’t), here’s my cynical take.
Are you old enough to remember how Microsoft killed the browser market? After the World Wide Web exploded (and caught Microsoft totally unprepared), there was a blooming browser market (with Netscape being the absolute market leader). Microsoft couldn’t compete in that market with an immature product (Internet Explorer) and decided it’s best to destroy the market. They made Internet Explorer freely available and the rest is history – after the free product won the browser wars (it’s hard to beat free and good enough) it took years for reasonable alternatives to emerge. Not surprisingly, browser innovation almost stopped until Internet Explorer lost its dominant market position.
Even if you don’t remember Netscape Navigator, you’ve probably heard of Linux. Have you ever wondered how you could get a high-quality open-source operating system for free? Check the list of top Linux contributors (page 9-11 of the Linux Kernel Development report) – Red Hat, Intel, Novell and IBM. You might wonder why Intel and IBM invest in Linux. It’s simple: the less users have to pay for the operating systems, the more money will be left to buy hardware. For more details, you absolutely have to read Be Wary of Geeks Bearing Gifts by Simon Wardley.
So what will Daylight be? Another Internet Explorer (killing the OpenFlow controller market, Big Switch in particular) or another Linux (a good product ensuring OpenFlow believers continue spending money on hardware, not software)? I'm hoping we'll get a robust networking Linux, but your guess is as good as mine.