Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Stefan Bernbo, TJ Randall

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

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.


@CloudExpo Stories
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smart...
Complete Internet of Things (IoT) embedded device security is not just about the device but involves the entire product’s identity, data and control integrity, and services traversing the cloud. A device can no longer be looked at as an island; it is a part of a system. In fact, given the cross-domain interactions enabled by IoT it could be a part of many systems. Also, depending on where the device is deployed, for example, in the office building versus a factory floor or oil field, security ha...
An IoT product’s log files speak volumes about what’s happening with your products in the field, pinpointing current and potential issues, and enabling you to predict failures and save millions of dollars in inventory. But until recently, no one knew how to listen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dan Gettens, Chief Research Officer at OnProcess, discussed recent research by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and OnProcess Technology, where MIT created a new, breakthrough analytics model for s...
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.
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2017 New York. The 20th Cloud Expo and 7th @ThingsExpo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Internet to enable us all to im...
"We are the public cloud providers. We are currently providing 50% of the resources they need for doing e-commerce business in China and we are hosting about 60% of mobile gaming in China," explained Yi Zheng, CPO and VP of Engineering at CDS Global Cloud, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"We are a custom software development, engineering firm. We specialize in cloud applications from helping customers that have on-premise applications migrating to the cloud, to helping customers design brand new apps in the cloud. And we specialize in mobile apps," explained Peter Di Stefano, Vice President of Marketing at Impiger Technologies, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
When it comes to cloud computing, the ability to turn massive amounts of compute cores on and off on demand sounds attractive to IT staff, who need to manage peaks and valleys in user activity. With cloud bursting, the majority of the data can stay on premises while tapping into compute from public cloud providers, reducing risk and minimizing need to move large files. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Jeschonek, Director of Product Management at Avere Systems, discussed the IT and busin...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, director/senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and sh...
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
"We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
All clouds are not equal. To succeed in a DevOps context, organizations should plan to develop/deploy apps across a choice of on-premise and public clouds simultaneously depending on the business needs. This is where the concept of the Lean Cloud comes in - resting on the idea that you often need to relocate your app modules over their life cycles for both innovation and operational efficiency in the cloud. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at19th Cloud Expo, Valentin (Val) Bercovici, CTO of Soli...
"Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to simplify and streamline our lives by automating routine tasks that distract us from our goals. This promise is based on the ubiquitous deployment of smart, connected devices that link everything from industrial control systems to automobiles to refrigerators. Unfortunately, comparatively few of the devices currently deployed have been developed with an eye toward security, and as the DDoS attacks of late October 2016 have demonstrated, this oversight can ...
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...