Cisco Systems (CSCO.O), IBM (IBM.N) and Citrix (CTXS.O) have joined forces with other tech companies in a consortium to kickstart the corporate market for software-defined networking (SDN), aimed at making network management easier and cheaper.
Other members of the development platform called OpenDaylight include Juniper Networks (JNPR.N), VMware (VMW.N), Microsoft (MSFT.O), Red Hat (RHT.N), Intel (INTC.O) and Brocade (BRCD.O) as well as privately held Big Switch Networks and Arista Networks.
Each member will contribute technology such as code to the project in an effort to share the costs of basic research and development, and enable products from different vendors to work together, the companies said on Monday. However, vendors will still be able to customize their offerings to differentiate themselves from rivals.
The SDN market is still considered nascent, but is expected to grow to $3.7 billion by 2016 from an estimated $360 million this year, according to research firm IDC.
The first code from OpenDaylight is expected to be released in the third quarter of this year.
"It will be interesting to see how it works in practice. There was some skepticism on our part on the networking industry getting together because they never got together before," said Brad Casemore, a veteran networking analyst at IDC, in Toronto.
SDN products let businesses reduce the amount of networking gear in data centers by replacing much of their function with software that is centralized in one or more servers.
The technology has been in the spotlight ever since VMware bought SDN startup Nicira in August last year for $1.26 billion.
(Reporting by Nicola Leske; Editing by Jan Paschal)