April 18, 2013

Open Networking Summit 2013

Day 1 of ONS started with legendary Vint Cerf being escorted into ONS 2013 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOOL-GdfkZU) by none other than 007 hero James Bond. Mr. Cerf just received the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, 2013, so being escorted by 007 made sense.

vint

James Bond, left, and Vint Cerf, right. Two legends, one show.

Day 1 of ONS 2013 ended with “ONS Idol.” Yep, singing, dancing, the crowd going bananas.  Ok, maybe more like lively powerpoints and various companies having fun on stage.  Mixed in with cocktail hours, the ONSers had a good time.

In between Mr. Cerf literally parachuting into ONS 2013 and closing with ONS Idol, Customers, Product Teams and Industry Leaders gathered to discuss various topics ranging from Customer Use Cases to Industry Collaboration efforts. For those interested, Curt Collins over a SDN Central has an excellent summary of the Keynote and Plenary speakers here (http://www.sdncentral.com/products-technologies/ons-2013-day-1-highlights-open-networking-summit/2013/04/).

In between sessions and during the evening, around 40 SDN product makers, research groups or Service Provider showcased their efforts with live demos and/or some handouts to discuss the happenings with SDN and OpenFlow.

A theme that continues to resonate is demonstrating and proving interoperability of the SDN Ecosystem. In that regard, NEC is highlighting their ProgrammableFlow Controller (PFC) strategic partnerships, including Extreme Networks.

Another central theme is Applications. The discussions are rising up the SDN Framework while still including the High Performing Network Infrastructure and of course the OpenFlow controller.  There is a focus on what applications can take advantage of the centralized intelligence of an SDN ecosystem.

In that regard, Big Switch Networks continues to highlight not only their SDN Controller, but also Big Tap and Big Virtual Switch with a live demonstration in their booth. Big Switch also provided a live demonstration during their Plenary session so clearly they are production ready.

Extreme Networks brought in a few key folks including Howard Holgate, Sam Hague and Tim Rozet from the SDN Engineering team. These are the guys that either wrote the code or are doing QA, so we were ready for anyone wanting to do technical deepdives.  In keeping with the themes of interoperability and applications, the Extreme demo showcased a couple of unique and interesting things.

  1. Mobile User launching an SDN application and initiating an OpenFlow-based Video stream from their Nexus 7 tablet over WiFi.
  2. Big Switch Controller
  3. Extreme Network OpenFlow agents provisioning the OpenFlow conditions into the Summit X670 hardware tables for high speed performance.

Our unique differentiation, showcased in this demo, is that we can program OpenFlow Quality of Service into our hardware queues providing that high level of service and performance needed for demanding applications like video.

Some of our other unique aspects, besides having currently shipping products with a single OS for consistency and predictability, highlighted at the show:

Hybrid Mode Support for Both OpenFlow and Classic Ethernet Networks

ExtremeXOS allows both network programmability and flow-based forwarding with OpenFlow, as well as more commonly used and traditional CLI and NMS-based provisioning with classic Ethernet-based forwarding decisions. Extreme Networks switches support hybrid mode on a per VLAN basis. A single port can support both OpenFlow controlled VLANS and VLANS with traditional networking services.

Link Aggregation Group for Resiliency and Redundancy

ExtremeXOS OpenFlow supports Link Aggregation Groups for system redundancy and bandwidth scaling. ExtremeXOS represents an entire LAG group as a single high capacity link to an SDN controller, enabling existing SDN applications to utilize the bandwidth scaling, load balancing, and resiliency characteristics of a LAG group without being required to manage the individual member of the LAG directly.

Hardware Queuing with ExtremeXOS

Using the ExtremeXOS CLI, interface queues are configured based on operator-defined service policies and then assigned to physical ports. When those same physical ports are also configured as OpenFlow ports, the Extreme Networks switch will report configured profile queues to the OpenFlow controller with the Queue_Get_Config_Reply message. This enables the controller to dynamically program the flows that are mapped to those configured queues, providing a rich set of traffic-differentiated services.

Automated Flow Management for Increased Flow Table Size

ExtremeXOS intelligently classifies and maps controller flow-mods to the appropriate platform hardware resources to insure maximum flow scaling. Complex flows requiring combinations of L2 and L3 match conditions are instantiated in platform TCAM ACL hardware. Simple L2-only flows are mapped to the more scalable platform L2 forwarding table. ExtremeXOS OpenFlow also fully supports OpenFlow idle_timeout and hard_timeout flow mods to evict flows from the hardware resources efficiently and effectively, allowing new flow entries as required.

Anyway, it was great to see folks like Vint Cerf and equally exciting to be able to talk to and share ideas with the folks who are building the future of networking. It is also interesting to note that while everyone was excited about the possibilities of SDN, it is clear that some excitement as reflected in functional demos was more real than others. Regardless, it was a good show and I know I am looking forward to ONS 2014.

About The Contributor:
Extreme Marketing Team

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