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Juniper Networks is moving the codebase for its OpenContrail network virtualization platform to the Linux Foundation.

Juniper first released its Contrail products as open source in 2013 and built a community around the project. However, many stakeholders complained that Juniper didn’t work very hard to build the community, and some called it “faux-pen source.”

Earlier this year, AT&T’s Paul Carver, a principle member of the technical staff with AT&T, said, “The biggest challenge with Contrail is the lack of that community. I personally have not given up yet to get more non-Juniper people working on it. But it’s been a real uphill battle. The key takeaway is: the communities are what’s most important to us.”

In today’s announcement, Juniper said adding OpenContrail’s codebase to the Linux Foundation will further its objective to grow the use of open source platforms in cloud ecosystems.

In an interview with SDxCentral, Randy Bias, vice president of technology for cloud software at Juniper, said, “This is the culmination of many months of work and coordination with the community. It took a lot of internal alignment, getting it done in six to eight month’s time.”

Recently, Ankur Singla, who used to head up Contrail at Juniper, left the company. Morgan Dollard, formerly with Google, is now the general manager for Contrail at Juniper. Dollard “ran the entire SDN projects inside Google,” said Bias. “I report directly to him. A lot of alignment was happening prior to his onboarding.”

Linux Project Reorganization

Bias also said the Linux Foundation is actually doing some realigning of its projects. The OpenContrail project will join with the Open Networking Automation Platform (ONAP) and perhaps some other projects under a new sub-foundation called the Linux Networking Foundation. “It will be an umbrella under which a number of projects reside,” said Bias. “OpenContrail will be one of them.”

The sub-foundation will be directed by Arpit Joshipura, who is currently vice president of networking and orchestration at the Linux Foundation.

“There’s a certain amount of fatigue for enterprises going down the open source route,” said Bias. “It can become difficult to spread yourself so thin. There’s a general swing back to provide some consolidation. By aggregating like-minded projects together you get better economies of scale.”

Although AT&T had earlier expressed frustration with OpenContrail, today Chris Rice, senior vice president of AT&T Labs, said in a prepared statement, “We applaud Juniper for putting OpenContrail as a project within the Linux Foundation. We expect that this move will further expand its community reach. We look forward to joining others in working within the OpenContrail community.”

OpenContrail

Juniper describes OpenContrail as a scalable network virtualization control plane. It provides both software-defined networking (SDN) and security. OpenContrail has been deployed by various organizations, including cloud providers, telecom operators, and enterprises to automate workload management across diverse cloud environments.

In addition to OpenContrail, Juniper sells several commercial products, including Contrail Networking, Contrail Security, and Contrail Cloud. Just today at its NXTWORK 2017 conference in San Francisco, Juniper announced a new product: Contrail Enterprise Multi-Cloud.

“OpenContrail is the foundational project on which Contrail products are built,” said Bias. “I like to think of the control plane as being the most important foundational piece, which crosses all product names.”

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