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software defined networking

Wendy Cartee, Nick McKeown, Guru Parulkar, and Chris Wright discuss the first 10 years of software defined networking at Open Networking Summit North America.

In 2008, if you wanted to build a network, you had to build it from the same switch and router equipment that everyone else had, according to Nick McKeown, co-founder of Barefoot Networks, speaking as part of a panel of networking experts at Open Networking Summit North America

Equipment was closed, proprietary, and vertically integrated with features already baked in, McKeown noted. And, “network management was a dirty word. If you wanted to manage a network of switches, you had to write your own scripts over a lousy, cruddy CLI, and everybody had their own way of doing it in order to try to make their network different from everybody else’s.”

All this changed when Stanford University Ph.D. student Martin Casado had the bold idea to rebuild the Stanford network out of custom-built switches and access points, he said.

Separate Planes

“Martin just simply showed that if you lift the control up and out of the switches, up into servers, you could replace the 2,000 CPUs with one CPU centrally managed and it would perform exactly how you wanted, could administered by about 10 people instead of 200. And you could implement the policies of a large institution directly in one place, centrally administered,” said McKeown.

That led to the birth of The Clean Slate program and, shortly afterward, Kate Green from MIT Technology Review coined the term Software Defined Networking (SDN), he said.

“What seemed like a very simple idea, to just separate the control plane from the forwarding plane, define a protocol that is OpenFlow, and enable the research community to build new capabilities and functionality on top of that control plane … caught the attention of the research community and made it very, very easy for them to innovate,’’ said Guru Parulkar, executive director of the Open Networking Foundation.

On the heels of that came the idea of slicing a production network using OpenFlow and a simple piece of software, he said. In one slice you could run a production network, and in another slice you could run an experimental network and show the new capabilities.

The notion of the segregating of the control plane and the data plane brought about a whole new way of doing networking as it became open, along with the intersection of open source and SDN, noted moderator Wendy Cartee, senior director of marketing, Cloud Native Applications, at VMware.

“Building all of this new virtualization technology and bringing it into enterprises and to the world at large, created a need for a type of network programmability” that was happening as the same time as the research, noted Chris Wright, vice president and CTO, at Red Hat. That brought about open source tools like Open vSwitch, “so we could build a type of network topology that we needed in virtualization.”

Confluence of Events

In the beginning, there was much hype about SDN and desegregation and OpenFlow, Wright said. But, he continued, it’s not about a particular tool or a protocol, “it’s about a concept, and the concept is about programmability of the network, and open source is a great way to help develop skills and advance the industry with a lot of collaborative effort.”

There was a confluence of events: taking some core tenets from research, creating open source projects for people to collaborate around and solve real engineering problems for themselves, Wright said. “To me it’s a little bit of the virtualization, a little bit of academic research coming together at just the right time and then accelerated with open source code that we can collaborate on.”

Today, many service providers are deploying CORD (Central Office Re-architected as a Datacenter) because operators want to rebuild the network edge because 5G is coming, Parulkar observed.

“Many operators want to [offer] gigabit-plus broadband access to their residential customers,” he said. “The central offices are very old and so building the new network edge is almost mandatory.” Ideally, they want to do it with new software defined networking, open source, desegregation and white boxes, he added.

The Next 10 Years

Looking ahead, the networking community “risks a bit of fragmentation as we will go off in different directions,’’ said McKeown. So he said it’s important to find a balance, and the common interest is in creating production quality software from ODL, ONS, CORD, and P4.

The overall picture is that “we’re trying to build next-generation networks,’’ said Wright. “What’s challenging for us as a broad industry is finding the best-of-breed ways to do that … so that we don’t create fragmentation. Part of that fragmentation is a lack of interoperability, but part of that fragmentation is just focus.”

There is still a way to go to realize the full potential of SDN, said Parulkar. But in 10 years’ time, predicted Wright, “SDN20 will be really an open source movement. I think SDN is about unlocking the potential of the network in the context of applications and users, not just the operators trying to connect … two different, separate end points.”

Wright suggested that audience members change their mindset and grow their skills, “because many of the operational practices that we see today in networks don’t translate into a software world where things move rapidly. We [need to] look at being able to make small, consistent, incremental changes rather than big bang, roll out changes. Getting involved and really being open to new techniques, new tools and new technologies … is how, together we can create the next generation. The new Internet.”

 

ONAP

“Bell has been engaged in the ONAP journey from day one and committed to get it to production to demonstrate its value,” said Tamer Shenouda, Director of Network Transformation for Bell.

Bell, Canada’s largest communications company, is the first in the world to deploy the open source version of the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) in production. Bell has built the capability to automate its data center tenant network provisioning on top of the ONAP Platform, providing its operations teams with a new tool to improve efficiency and time to market. This is the first step in using ONAP as a common platform across Bell’s networks on its journey towards a multi-partner DevOps model.

As part of the company’s Network 3.0 transformation initiative, Bell and its partners used Agile delivery to launch a minimum viable product with the platform and will continue to adapt it to ensure that it best supports the needs of Bell customers. This significant development sends a clear message to the industry that ONAP is ready and usable, and that carriers don’t need to implement all ONAP components from day one to start production. Bell has also leveraged the capabilities of ONAP Operations Manager to simplify deployments, drastically reduce footprint and enable continuous delivery.

“Bell has been engaged in the ONAP journey from day one and committed to get it to production to demonstrate its value,” said Tamer Shenouda, Director of Network Transformation for Bell. “This demonstration will encourage other partners to take a similar incremental approach in delivery and operations of the platform, and we look forward to other telecoms launching ONAP to production.”

ONAP is a Linux Foundation project that unites two major open networking and orchestration projects – Open Source ECOMP and the Open Orchestrator Project (OPEN-O). ONAP brings together top global carriers and vendors, using shared knowledge to build a unified architecture that allows any network operator to automate, design, orchestrate and manage services and virtual functions.

“We’re very proud to be the first member of the ONAP Project to demonstrate the viability of the platform live on our network,” said Petri Lyytikainen, Bell’s Vice President, Network Strategy, Services and Management. “The evolution of our advanced software-defined networks will enable us to respond even faster to the unique needs of our customers.” 

Bell is a founding Platinum Member of ONAP. Platinum members include: Amdocs, AT&T, China Mobile, China Telecom, Cisco, Cloudify, Ericsson, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Jio, Nokia, Orange, Tech Mahindra, Türk Telekom, Vmware, Vodafone, and ZTE.

The Linux Foundation has announced keynote speakers and session highlights for Open Networking Summit, to be held April 3-6, 2017 in Santa Clara, CA.

ONS promises to be the largest, most comprehensive and most innovative networking and orchestration event of the year. The event brings enterprises, carriers, and cloud service providers together with the networking ecosystem to share learnings, highlight innovation and discuss the future of open source networking.

Speakers and attendees at Open Networking Summit represent the best and brightest in next-generation open source networking and orchestration technologies.

ONS keynote speakers

Martin Casado, a general partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and co-founder of Nicira (acquired by VMware in 2012) will give a keynote on the future of networking. (See our Q&A with Casado for a sneak preview.)

Other keynote speakers include:

  • John Donovan, Chief Strategy Officer and Group President – AT&T Technology and Operations with Andre Fuetsch, President AT&T Labs and Chief Technology Officer at AT&T

  • Justin Dustzadeh, VP, Head of Global Infrastructure Network Services, Visa

  • Dr. Hossein Eslambolchi, Technical Advisor to Facebook, Chairman & CEO, 2020 Venture Partners

  • Albert Greenberg, Corporate Vice President Azure Networking, Microsoft

  • Rashesh Jethi, SVP Engineering at Amadeus IT Group SA, the world’s leading online travel platform

  • Sandra Rivera, Vice President Datacenter Group, General Manager, Network Platforms Group, Intel Corporation

  • Amin Vahdat, Google Fellow and Technical Lead for Networking, Google

ONS session speakers

Summit sessions will cover the full scope of open networking across enterprise, cloud and service providers. Topics that will be explored at the event include container networking, software-defined data centers, cloud-native application development, security, network automation, microservices architecture, orchestration, SDN, NFV and so much more. Look forward to over 75 tutorials, workshops, and sessions led by networking innovators.

Session highlights include:

  • Accelerated SDN in Azure, Daniel Firestone, Microsoft

  • Troubleshooting for Intent-based Networking, Joon-Myung Kang, Hewlett Packard Labs

  • Beyond Micro-Services Architecture, Larry Peterson, Open Networking Lab

  • Combining AI and IoT. New Industrial Revolution in our houses and in the Universe, Karina Popova, LINK Mobility

  • Rethinking NFV: Where have we gone wrong, and how can we get it right?, Scott Shenker, UC Berkeley

View the full schedule with many more sessions across six tracks.

Linux.com readers can register now with the discount code, LINUXRD5, for 5% off the registration price. Register to attend by February 19 and save more than $800 over late registration pricing.

Open source development is accelerating networking technology in areas including software-defined networking, open standards, and orchestration. Projects such as OPNFV, OpenDaylight, and recently open sourced ECOMP with many others hosted by The Linux Foundation, are helping drive open source networking innovation.

To help you learn more and give you a sneak peek of Open Networking Summit in April, Arpit Joshipura, General Manager, Networking & Orchestration at The Linux Foundation, will hold a free webinar next week exploring the following topics:

  • How has networking evolved and where is it heading?

  • A sneak peek at the future architecture of enterprises and service providers

  • Why automation at the network and orchestration layers have simplified adjacent markets and industries

“We are entering phase three of open source software-defined networking which is about production-ready solutions deployed at scale,” said Joshipura. “In this webinar, you’ll learn how various open source components come together to create an end-to-end solution.”

This webinar will discuss open source innovations and technologies that enable end-to-end solutions for enterprises, carriers, and cloud. It will also describe open standards and open architectures in adjacent markets such as containers, cloud native, and IoT.

Join SDxCentral and The Linux Foundation for “Open Source Networking & Orchestration: From POC to Production” on Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 10:00am Pacific. Register now >>

With 2016 behind us, we can reflect on a landmark year where open source migrated up the stack. As a result a new breed of open service orchestration projects were announced, including ECOMP, OSM, OpenBaton, and The Linux Foundation  project OPEN-O, among them. While the scope varies between orchestrating Virtualized Network Functions (VNFs) in a Cloud Data Center, and more comprehensive end-to-end service delivery platforms, the new open service orchestration initiatives enable carriers and cable operators to automate end-to-end service delivery, ultimately minimizing the software development required for new services.

Open orchestration was propelled into the limelight as major operators have gained considerable experience over the past years with open source platforms, such as OpenStack and OpenDaylight. Many operators have announced ambitious network virtualization strategies, that are moving from proofs of concept (PoCs) into the field, including AT&T (Domain 2.0), Deutsche Telekom (TeraStream), Vodafone (Ocean), Telefonica (Unica), NTT Communications (O3), China Mobile (NovoNet), China Telecom (CTNet2025), among them.

Traditional Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) and open source projects have paved the way for the emergence of open orchestration. For instance, OPNFV (open NFV reference platform) expanded its charter to address NFV Management and Orchestration (MANO). Similarly, MEF is pursuing the Lifecycle Services Orchestration (LSO) initiative to standardize service orchestration, and intends to accelerate deployment with the OpenLSO open reference platform. Other efforts such as the TMForum Zero-touch Orchestration, Operations and Management (ZOOM) project area addressing the operational aspects as well.

Standards efforts are guiding the open source orchestration projects, which set the stage for 2017 to become The Year of Orchestration.

One notable example is the OPEN-O project, which delivered its initial release less than six months from the project formation. OPEN-O enables operators to deliver end-to-end composite services over NFV Infrastructure along with SDN and legacy networks. In addition to addressing the NFV MANO, OPEN-O integrates a model-driven automation framework, service design front-end, and connectivity services orchestration.

OPEN-O is backed by some of the world’s largest and innovative SDN/NFV market leaders, including China Mobile, China Telecom, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, and VMware among them. The project is also breaking new ground in evolving how open source can be successfully adopted for large scale, carrier-grade platforms.

To learn more about OPEN-O and rapidly evolving open orchestration landscape, please join us for our upcoming Webinar:

Title: Introduction to Open Orchestration and OPEN-O

Date/Time: Tue January 17, 2017  10:00a – 11:00a PST

Presenter: Marc Cohn, Executive Director, OPEN-O

Register today to save your spot in this engaging and interactive webinar. Can’t make it on the 17th? Registering will also ensure you get a copy of the recording via email after the presentation is over.

For additional details on OPEN-O, visit: www.open-o.org

Start exploring Essentials of OpenStack Administration by downloading the free sample chapter today. DOWNLOAD NOW

There are a number of open source cloud solutions such as Eucalyptus, OpenQRM, OpenNebula, and of course, OpenStack. These implementations typically share some design concepts, and services, which we’ll cover in this article — part of our ongoing series from The Linux Foundation’s Essentials of OpenStack Administration course. Download the full sample chapter now.

Design Concepts

First, cloud platforms are expected to grow: platform providers must be able to add resources at any time, with little hassle and with no downtime.

Cloud platforms also have a special interest in providing open APIs (Application Program Interfaces): this brings third-party developers, which in turn bring more users. Publicly available and well-documented APIs make this easier by the order of magnitudes.

Open APIs also ensure a basic level of flexibility and transparency, among other things making it easier for companies to decide for or against a specific platform.

RESTful interfaces are accessible via the ubiquitous HTTP protocol, making them readily scalable. It’s also easy to write software that communicates using them. Plus, many cloud platforms and providers use REST, so programmers developing for one will find it relatively easy to do it for another.

Software-Defined Networking

Historically, the networking infrastructure has been a relatively static component of data centers. Even simple things like IP address provisioning are typically manual, error-prone affairs. Modern DCs (data centers) rely on advanced functions like VLANs or trunking, but they still happen on the networking level and require manual switch configuration.

We have established that cloud platforms require end users to configure networking, such as IP address requests, private networks, and gateway access. The cloud requires this to be flexible and open, hence the term software-defined networking, or SDN.

Software-defined networking is an area of OpenStack with a lot of attention and change. The goal of software-defined networking, or SDN, is to completely manage my network from within OpenStack. There are two general approaches to deploying SDN. One is to use the existing switch architecture. The OpenStack software then uses proprietary code to make a request to the switch. The other manner of SDN implementation is to replace the control plane of the switch with open software. This solution would mean that end-to-end the communication would be open and transparent. As well, there would be no vendor lock with a particular switch manufacturer.

A similar concept is network function virtualization (NFV). Where SDN is virtualization of the network and separation of control and data plane, NFV is the virtualization of historic appliances such as routers, firewalls load balancers, and accelerators. These would be functions, then, that exist in a particular virtual machine. Some customers, such as telephone companies, can then deploy these services as virtual machines, removing the need for multiple different proprietary implementations.

Software-Defined Storage

In conventional setups, storage is typically designed around SANs (storage area networks) or SAN-like software constructs. Like conventional networking, these are often difficult and expensive to scale, and, as such, are unsuited to cloud environments.

Storage is a central part of clouds, and (you guessed it!), it must be provided to the user in fully automated fashion. Once again, the best way to achieve this is to introduce an abstraction layer in the software, a layer that needs to be scalable and fully integrated with both the cloud platform itself and the underlying storage hardware.

Flexible storage is another area essential for a cloud provider. Historically the solution was a SAN. A storage-area network uses proprietary hardware and tends to be expensive. Cloud providers are looking towards Ceph which allows for distributed access to commodity hardware across the network. Ceph uses standard network connections and allows for parallel access of thousands of clients. Without a single point of failure, it is becoming the default choice for back end storage.

In part 5 of this series, we’ll delve more into the OpenStack project: its open source community, release cycles, and use cases.

The Essentials of OpenStack Administration course teaches you everything you need to know to create and manage private and public clouds with OpenStack. Download a sample chapter today!

Read the other articles in the series:

Essentials of OpenStack Administration Part 1: Cloud Fundamentals

Essentials of OpenStack Administration Part 2: The Problem With Conventional Data Centers

Essentials of OpenStack Administration Part 3: Existing Cloud Solutions

Essentials of OpenStack Administration Part 5: OpenStack Releases and Use Cases