Click here to close now.


SDN Journal Authors: Don MacVittie, Lori MacVittie, Liz McMillan, Dinko Eror, Pat Romanski

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
Containers are all the rage among developers and web companies, but they also represent two very substantial benefits to larger organizations. First, they have the potential to dramatically accelerate the application lifecycle from software builds and testing to deployment and upgrades. Second they represent the first truly hybrid-approach to consuming infrastructure, allowing organizations to run the same workloads on any cloud, virtual machine or physical server. Together, they represent a ver...
SYS-CON Events announced today the Containers & Microservices Bootcamp, being held November 3-4, 2015, in conjunction with 17th Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, and @DevOpsSummit at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. This is your chance to get started with the latest technology in the industry. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Containers and Microservices Bootcamp, led by Janakiram MSV, a Microsoft Regional Director, will include presentations as well as hands-on...
As operational failure becomes more acceptable to discuss within the software industry, the necessity for holding constructive, actionable postmortems increases. But most of what we know about postmortems from "pop culture" isn't actually relevant for the software systems we work on and within. In his session at DevOps Summit, J. Paul Reed will look at postmortem pitfalls, techniques, and tools you'll be able to take back to your own environment so they will be able to lay the foundations for h...
Nowadays, a large number of sensors and devices are connected to the network. Leading-edge IoT technologies integrate various types of sensor data to create a new value for several business decision scenarios. The transparent cloud is a model of a new IoT emergence service platform. Many service providers store and access various types of sensor data in order to create and find out new business values by integrating such data.
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, will show how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants will get the download information, scripts, and complete en...
Containers are changing the security landscape for software development and deployment. As with any security solutions, security approaches that work for developers, operations personnel and security professionals is a requirement. In his session at @DevOpsSummit, Kevin Gilpin, CTO and Co-Founder of Conjur, will discuss various security considerations for container-based infrastructure and related DevOps workflows.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in high-performance, high-efficiency server, storage technology and green computing, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data ...
Achim Weiss is Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of ProfitBricks. In 1995, he broke off his studies to co-found the web hosting company "Schlund+Partner." The company "Schlund+Partner" later became the 1&1 web hosting product line. From 1995 to 2008, he was the technical director for several important projects: the largest web hosting platform in the world, the second largest DSL platform, a video on-demand delivery network, the largest eMail backend in Europe, and a universal billing syste...
Between the compelling mockups and specs produced by analysts, and resulting applications built by developers, there exists a gulf where projects fail, costs spiral, and applications disappoint. Methodologies like Agile attempt to address this with intensified communication, with partial success but many limitations. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, will present a revolutionary model enabled by new technologies. Learn how busine...
Interested in leveraging automation technologies and a cloud architecture to make developers more productive? Learn how PaaS can benefit your organization to help you streamline your application development, allow you to use existing infrastructure and improve operational efficiencies. Begin charting your path to PaaS with OpenShift Enterprise.
IT data is typically silo'd by the various tools in place. Unifying all the log, metric and event data in one analytics platform stops finger pointing and provides the end-to-end correlation. Logs, metrics and custom event data can be joined to tell the holistic story of your software and operations. For example, users can correlate code deploys to system performance to application error codes.
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical...
Containers have changed the mind of IT in DevOps. They enable developers to work with dev, test, stage and production environments identically. Containers provide the right abstraction for microservices and many cloud platforms have integrated them into deployment pipelines. DevOps and containers together help companies achieve their business goals faster and more effectively. In his session at DevOps Summit, Ruslan Synytsky, CEO and Co-founder of Jelastic, will review the current landscape of...
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, will explore the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends an...
As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ability. Many are unable to effectively engage and inspire, creating forward momentum in the direction of desired change. Renowned for its approach to leadership and emphasis on their people, organizations increasingly look to our military for insight into these challenges.
Through WebRTC, audio and video communications are being embedded more easily than ever into applications, helping carriers, enterprises and independent software vendors deliver greater functionality to their end users. With today’s business world increasingly focused on outcomes, users’ growing calls for ease of use, and businesses craving smarter, tighter integration, what’s the next step in delivering a richer, more immersive experience? That richer, more fully integrated experience comes ab...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading in...
DevOps Summit, taking place at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and Javits Center in New York City, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait...
For almost two decades, businesses have discovered great opportunities to engage with customers and even expand revenue through digital systems, including web and mobile applications. Yet, even now, the conversation between the business and the technologists that deliver these systems is strained, in large part due to misaligned objectives. In his session at DevOps Summit, James Urquhart, Senior Vice President of Performance Analytics at SOASTA, Inc., will discuss how measuring user outcomes –...