If having your own conference means you've made it as a software project, the developers of OpenDaylight, the open source software-defined networking (SDN) platform, will be celebrating next month. On Feb. 4-5, the inaugral OpenDaylight Summit will take place in Santa Clara, Calif., highlighting the significant backing that the collaborative software project enjoys as SDN becomes an increasingly important part of enterprise computing.

The Summit's program reflects the current state of OpenDaylight, and SDN in general, as a technology that is still in the development and adoption phase. Many of the sessions will focus on the how-to of deploying OpenDaylight, as well as predicting where it is headed in the future.

That makes sense, since many IT professionals are still learning about SDN and understanding how it can make networking simpler, cheaper and more reliable by substituting software for much of the physical infrastructure on which networks today continue to rely. In effect, SDN virtualizes networking in the same way that hypervisors do for operating systems, opening up vast new opportunities for building and maintaining networks. Now, the code just needs to be completed and deployed to implement this innovation.

But even if OpenDaylight remains in development and is not yet in widespread production use within many data centers, it already enjoys significant backing, which is evident in the conference. IBM (IBM) and Ericsson are the event's chief sponsors, and it was organized with the help of the Linux Foundation, the non-profit consortium that backs OpenDaylight, along with many other open source projects. Other prominent supporters of OpenDaylight include Cisco Systems (CSCO), Citrix (CTXS), Microsoft (MSFT) and Red Hat (RHT).

From OpenDaylight's broad backing within the channel, there's little doubt that the project will become a crucial part of the IT infrastructure of the future. The upcoming summit should help detail exactly how OpenDaylight will arrive there, how much more development is needed and where its promoters see it going in the future.

Details and registration for the Summit are available from the Linux Foundation.