Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Charles Araujo

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo, @DXWorldExpo

SDN Journal: Article

Using OpenFlow to Extend Software Defined Networking

OpenFlow’s Role in One-Stop Shopping for Control of Enterprise Cloud, Storage and Network Resources

Using OpenFlow to extend software-defined networking (SDN) to the optical layer is a compelling prospect for enterprises seeking to achieve joint orchestration of information technology (IT) and network resources for cloud services, to virtualize the network and to more simply manage interconnections of distributed data centers that require synchronization.

Today's fragmented, specialized management and control approaches are fraught with proprietary protocols and management systems, limited scalability and configuration complexities. With an OpenFlow-enabled transport network, an enterprise could instead engage in a kind of "one-stop shopping" for control of cloud computing, storage and networking resources - all via one, unified application programming interface (API). The benefits could include significantly simplified configuration, management and scaling of large-scale enterprise infrastructures through integration and automation.

That's a new role for OpenFlow, demanding strategic tailoring of the protocol for the optical transport domain. Demonstration and development of the capability are closely watched by enterprises that are under incessant pressure to cost-effectively meet ever-increasing demand for bandwidth and services.

Virtualization's New Frontier
Servers and storage have been virtualized in the enterprise; the next great frontier for virtualization is the network.

Because of the substantial cost savings and performance benefits that it can deliver, SDN-based virtualization is of prime interest to enterprises for a wide range of applications. OpenFlow has emerged as one of the most popular SDN protocols. Web 2.0 network operators and national research and education network (NREN) operators, especially, like OpenFlow.

With OpenFlow, an abstraction of the network's packet switches can be generated and flow-forwarding behavior can be specified across an infrastructure via an external controller. Operations can be substantially automated and streamlined by breaking up the monolithically integrated control and forwarding paradigm of today's switches.

Using OpenFlow, could SDN be extended across layers and create a scenario in which - with a single instruction - the controller could jointly create virtual machines and enable enterprise network administrators to reserve computing, networking and storage resources in one stroke?

It is an obviously compelling notion for enterprise network staffs who desperately need to simplify operations. However, the problem is OpenFlow deployment and development has largely been limited to the electrical packet layer, whereas the interconnection beyond the data center is typically comprised of optical transport technology. Furthermore, the optical domain is where things get hazy for many enterprise network administrators. Their comfort zone tends to be packets - not wavelengths and optics.

The result is that cloud computing is currently decoupled from the transport networking control and operation. The network exists as a static, separated entity in today's cloud implementations. There is no interaction between cloud computing processes and the statically configured network. The two are not in any way interoperable; they speak different languages.

Converging cloud computing and networking requires a more dynamic mode of control and operation, but enterprises largely have judged integrating management of the optical network into the data-center environment to be too complex.

To extend OpenFlow from its established role in the electrical packet domain to the optical layer (and, thereby, extend SDN across multiple network layers), a range of optical-specific concerns must be tackled.

Crafting and Experimenting
Within the European Commission's FP7 ICT Work Programme is a collaborative project, "OpenFlow in Europe - Linking Infrastructure and Applications" (OFELIA), that provides researchers with a test bed in which to experiment with SDN applications and virtual multi-layer networks over shared network infrastructure.

Via standardized, secure interfaces through GÉANT, a high-bandwidth interconnection of European R&E networks, researchers develop, run and control experiments using packet switches and application servers at the University of Essex and seven other test-bed facilities throughout Europe.

OFELIA hosts a prototype implementation of dynamic control of wavelength-switched optical networks via OpenFlow. Bandwidth, latency and power consumption can be adjusted to meet the specific requirements of specific applications.

To make it happen, key OpenFlow additions had to be engineered in order for the protocol to effectively control the optical domain. Optical-specific considerations were required to adapt OpenFlow from the packet world. A packet can travel from any ingress to any egress port in an electrical switch or from any time slot in a time-division multiplexing (TDM) device. The optical domain, however, introduces strict switching constraints, with regard to wavelength continuity, optical impairments, optical power leveling on the line side, etc.

Augmenting OpenFlow to address those optical-specific concerns has resulted in an OFELIA prototype that demonstrates a truly transparent, wavelength-switched optical network. The research community is able to experiment with the capability via a flexible, Web-services approach; commercial enterprises, too, are interested in trialing the capability for their specific applications and environments.

OpenFlow is not sufficient in itself to enable the complete transformation that enterprise network administrators envision, to SDN-enable virtualization across all layers of their infrastructures. The additions to OpenFlow that were engineered for the OFELIA test bed provide only the bridge between the optical layer and packet layer and allow integration into a cloud operating system such as OpenStack.

But that is one very important bridge, and the promise for enterprise network administrators is considerable. The OpenFlow innovation could seamlessly integrate the optical transport network under a common management umbrella with an enterprise's routers and switches - all via one familiar interface. Management of the optical domain could become as simple as the management of Ethernet boxes - using an encapsulation of virtual resources that enterprise network administrators could manage via typical and familiar infrastructure. That's a significant breakthrough. With many enterprises already considering usage of an OpenFlow-based control for their packet networks, extending the framework to the wavelength-switched optical layer would be a natural migration.

Virtualization has developed over phases in enterprise networking. First, resource virtualization inside data centers delivered economic savings through enhanced utilization, scalability and redundancy. Data-center virtualization conveyed greater infrastructure flexibility, higher availability and better workload balancing. The next frontier, network virtualization, promises true platform agility and, with it, a host of long-sought-after enterprise capabilities: capacity on-demand, adaptive infrastructure and dynamic service automation, among them. Adapting OpenFlow and extending SDN to the optical transport domain comprise an important step toward that vision.

More Stories By Jörg-Peter Elbers

Jörg-Peter Elbers is VP Advanced Technology in the CTO office at ADVA Optical Networking in Munich, Germany, and is globally responsible for technology strategy, new product concepts, standardization, and research activities.

Prior to joining ADVA in 2007, he was Director of Technology in the Optical Product Unit of Marconi (now Ericsson). From 1999 to 2001, he worked at Siemens AG, last as Director of Network Architecture in Siemens Optical Networks.

More Stories By Achim Autenrieth

Achim Autenrieth is Principle Research Engineer Advanced Technology in the CTO Office at ADVA Optical Networking, where he is working on the design and evaluation of multilayer networks, control plane, and SDN concepts. Achim is a member of IEEE and VDE/ITG, he authored or co-authored more than 70 reviewed and invited scientific publications and he is technical program committee member of ECOC, DRCN, and RNDM.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
In his session at Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, presented a success story of an entrepreneur who has both suffered through and benefited from offshore development across multiple businesses: The smart choice, or how to select the right offshore development partner Warning signs, or how to minimize chances of making the wrong choice Collaboration, or how to establish the most effective work processes Budget control, or how to maximize project result...
In his keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher Labs, discussed the technological advances and new business opportunities created by the rapid adoption of containers. With the success of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and various open source technologies used to build private clouds, cloud computing has become an essential component of IT strategy. However, users continue to face challenges in implementing clouds, as older technologies evolve and newer ones like Docker c...
In IT, we sometimes coin terms for things before we know exactly what they are and how they’ll be used. The resulting terms may capture a common set of aspirations and goals – as “cloud” did broadly for on-demand, self-service, and flexible computing. But such a term can also lump together diverse and even competing practices, technologies, and priorities to the point where important distinctions are glossed over and lost.
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, CTO of Embotics, discussed how automation can provide the dynamic management required to cost-effectively deliver microservices and container solutions at scale. He also discussed how flexible automation is the key to effectively bridging and seamlessly coordinating both IT and developer needs for component orchestration across disparate clouds – an increasingly important requirement at today’s multi-cloud enterprise.
In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Kelly Looney, director of DevOps consulting for Skytap, showed how an incremental approach to introducing containers into complex, distributed applications results in modernization with less risk and more reward. He also shared the story of how Skytap used Docker to get out of the business of managing infrastructure, and into the business of delivering innovation and business value. Attendees learned how up-front planning allows for a clean sep...
"I will be talking about ChatOps and ChatOps as a way to solve some problems in the DevOps space," explained Himanshu Chhetri, CTO of Addteq, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
For organizations that have amassed large sums of software complexity, taking a microservices approach is the first step toward DevOps and continuous improvement / development. Integrating system-level analysis with microservices makes it easier to change and add functionality to applications at any time without the increase of risk. Before you start big transformation projects or a cloud migration, make sure these changes won’t take down your entire organization.
When you focus on a journey from up-close, you look at your own technical and cultural history and how you changed it for the benefit of the customer. This was our starting point: too many integration issues, 13 SWP days and very long cycles. It was evident that in this fast-paced industry we could no longer afford this reality. We needed something that would take us beyond reducing the development lifecycles, CI and Agile methodologies. We made a fundamental difference, even changed our culture...
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Mike Johnston, an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io, discussed how to use Kubernetes to set up a SaaS infrastructure for your business. Mike Johnston is an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io with over 12 years of experience designing, deploying, and maintaining server and workstation infrastructure at all scales. He has experience with brick and mortar data centers as well as cloud providers like Digital Ocean, Amazon Web Services, and Rackspace. H...
You often hear the two titles of "DevOps" and "Immutable Infrastructure" used independently. In his session at DevOps Summit, John Willis, Technical Evangelist for Docker, covered the union between the two topics and why this is important. He provided an overview of Immutable Infrastructure then showed how an Immutable Continuous Delivery pipeline can be applied as a best practice for "DevOps." He ended the session with some interesting case study examples.
Without lifecycle traceability and visibility across the tool chain, stakeholders from Planning-to-Ops have limited insight and answers to who, what, when, why and how across the DevOps lifecycle. This impacts the ability to deliver high quality software at the needed velocity to drive positive business outcomes. In his general session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Eric Robertson, General Manager at CollabNet, will discuss how customers are able to achieve a level of transparency that e...
The Jevons Paradox suggests that when technological advances increase efficiency of a resource, it results in an overall increase in consumption. Writing on the increased use of coal as a result of technological improvements, 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons found that these improvements led to the development of new ways to utilize coal. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer for Apcera, compared the Jevons Paradox to modern-day enterprise IT, examin...
The taxi industry never saw Uber coming. Startups are a threat to incumbents like never before, and a major enabler for startups is that they are instantly “cloud ready.” If innovation moves at the pace of IT, then your company is in trouble. Why? Because your data center will not keep up with frenetic pace AWS, Microsoft and Google are rolling out new capabilities. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Don Browning, VP of Cloud Architecture at Turner, posited that disruption is inevitable for comp...
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
"This all sounds great. But it's just not realistic." This is what a group of five senior IT executives told me during a workshop I held not long ago. We were working through an exercise on the organizational characteristics necessary to successfully execute a digital transformation, and the group was doing their ‘readout.' The executives loved everything we discussed and agreed that if such an environment existed, it would make transformation much easier. They just didn't believe it was reali...
Your homes and cars can be automated and self-serviced. Why can't your storage? From simply asking questions to analyze and troubleshoot your infrastructure, to provisioning storage with snapshots, recovery and replication, your wildest sci-fi dream has come true. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, provided a ChatOps demo where you can talk to your storage and manage it from anywhere, through Slack and similar services with...
Containers are rapidly finding their way into enterprise data centers, but change is difficult. How do enterprises transform their architecture with technologies like containers without losing the reliable components of their current solutions? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Tony Campbell, Director, Educational Services at CoreOS, will explore the challenges organizations are facing today as they move to containers and go over how Kubernetes applications can deploy with lega...
The “Digital Era” is forcing us to engage with new methods to build, operate and maintain applications. This transformation also implies an evolution to more and more intelligent applications to better engage with the customers, while creating significant market differentiators. In both cases, the cloud has become a key enabler to embrace this digital revolution. So, moving to the cloud is no longer the question; the new questions are HOW and WHEN. To make this equation even more complex, most ...
Learn how to solve the problem of keeping files in sync between multiple Docker containers. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Aaron Brongersma, Senior Infrastructure Engineer at Modulus, discussed using rsync, GlusterFS, EBS and Bit Torrent Sync. He broke down the tools that are needed to help create a seamless user experience. In the end, can we have an environment where we can easily move Docker containers, servers, and volumes without impacting our applications? He shared his results so yo...