Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Elizabeth White, Johnnie Konstantas, Cloud Best Practices Network, Sarah Patrick, Ramesh Ganapathy

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Java IoT, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo, Cloud Security

SDN Journal: Blog Post

What SDN Can Do for Multicast Topologies

IP Multicast is one of those technologies that most everyone loves to hate

IP Multicast is one of those technologies that most everyone loves to hate. It’s almost the perfect example of how complicated we have made networking. Getting IP Multicast to run depends on several protocols that are all somewhat intertwined or dependent on each, their relationship sometimes explicit, sometimes implicit.

Even trying to describe the basic operation is complicated.

When an application or service provides information using IP multicast, it simply starts sending it onto a specific multicast group. The multicast router for the subnet of the sender sees the incoming multicast packet and will initially have no forwarding information for that stream in its forwarding hardware. The packet is passed onto the CPU of that router, which will encapsulate this packet and send it towards a special multicast router designated the Rendez-vous Point (RP). When the RP has installed the multicast routes for this group, it will tell the multicast router on the sender’s segment to stop sending. When it does, this router installs its own multicast routes for the source tree (the tree specific to this sender) and the shared tree (the one towards the RP) without any outgoing interfaces, and the traffic is dropped at this first router. But, the network (well at least the part between the sender and the RP) is now aware of this multicast stream. And who is sending.

Now when we want to join this IP Multicast group, the first action is send an IGMP join out on the subnet you are attached to. The IP Multicast router that serves this subnet sees the join and determines where RP can be found. It takes the client join, and sends it towards the RP, using the unicast routing table as its guide. Every multicast router along the way registers that there is a listener on the interface this join came in on and passes it along towards the IP. All along this path, the unicast routing entry for the RP is used to create the tree towards the listener.

Once received by the RP, the shared tree and the source tree towards the sender have been joined. We have an end to end path between sender and receiver, with the RP in the middle of it all. All that is left is to send a join from the RP towards the router on the sender’s subnet to essentially tell it to start passing the actual multicast along the path towards the RP (the source tree), where the RP will then push it out onto the shared tree towards the destination. Voila, it’s as simple as that.

But wait, we are not done. Once the packets start to flow from source to destination, the multicast router closest to the destination will send another join message for this group, but this time towards the sender. It is only now that it can do this because those first few data packets actually indicate who the sender is. That join is passed router to router to router towards the router on the sender’s subnet, and once arrived, that router will now also start sending the multicast data along that path towards the receiver. The receiving subnet router sees that stream appearing and will now send a prune message onto the shared tree towards the RP, indicating it no longer needs the multicast stream through the RP.

If you are not familiar with IP Multicast and after reading the above are not confused, congratulations, your brain is very well wired for complex networking.

If you step away from how IGMP and PIM implement this today as above, the most fundamental of IP multicast topologies is that you need to build a forwarding tree that is rooted in the source, with the destinations as its leaves. At each intermediate node in the tree, the packets are replicated to its branches, therefore creating the least amount of duplication. And by using a tree, it is loop free, packets won’t swirl around the network bringing it to its knees.

The challenging part though is that the tree is based on the unicast forwarding topology. From a leaf on this tree towards the sender, each step is identical to how a unicast IP packet would be forwarded. The forwarding topologies are connected and dependent on each other. IP Multicast is built on top of a unicast routed infrastructure, and unicast routing changes can have dramatic impacts to the multicast forwarding topologies.

I mentioned here before that I once spent a wonderful 2 weeks in Delhi working on a network where surveillance cameras created an aggregate 8Gbit/sec worth of multicast data, with a requirement that any unicast change would have limited impact to these streams. Believe me, it is extremely hard to engineer and tune, and we had the luxury of hijacking a really large network night after night to simulate failures.

SDN based architectures have the opportunity to change all this. Multicast forwarding was designed the way it was designed to work on arbitrary network topologies, with random senders and receivers coming and going. It builds trees on the fly and on demand. For many networks, topologies are not arbitrary, and those applications that consume/produce lots of multicast do not have randomly placed senders and receivers that come and go as they please.  Many of them are well known or placed in fairly static and fixed topologies.

A controller with a global view of the network can create multicast topologies ahead of time. It knows all possible replication points and can create distribution trees among them. It can create different distribution trees for different multicast groups. It can create them independent of the unicast forwarding. It can calculate backup topologies in case portions of the tree fail. And it can do all of that guaranteeing there are no loops and optimal replication. When applications indicate their participation in specific multicast streams as senders or listeners to this controller, it can optimize very specifically based on those participants. The possibilities are endless.

We had a customer visit us yesterday that has very significant multicast needs and we walked him through some of these possibilities. He left with a huge smile on his face. And that smile on his face was not because he really liked what we built (even though he did), but it was because we showed him that if you remove legacy network thinking and constraints, networking can yet again be extremely exciting and creates solutions that he did not think were possible, in a fairly simple and straightforward way. And that, in turn, is truly exciting to us.

The post What SDN can do for Multicast Topologies appeared first on Plexxi.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Marten Terpstra

Marten Terpstra is a Product Management Director at Plexxi Inc. Marten has extensive knowledge of the architecture, design, deployment and management of enterprise and carrier networks.

@CloudExpo Stories
Sensors and effectors of IoT are solving problems in new ways, but small businesses have been slow to join the quantified world. They’ll need information from IoT using applications as varied as the businesses themselves. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Meike, Distinguished Engineer, Director of Technology Innovation at Intuit, showed how IoT manufacturers can use open standards, public APIs and custom apps to enable the Quantified Small Business. He used a Raspberry Pi to connect sensors...
Let’s face it, embracing new storage technologies, capabilities and upgrading to new hardware often adds complexity and increases costs. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Seth Oxenhorn, Vice President of Business Development & Alliances at FalconStor, will discuss how a truly heterogeneous software-defined storage approach can add value to legacy platforms and heterogeneous environments. The result reduces complexity, significantly lowers cost, and provides IT organizations with improved effi...
Predictive analytics tools monitor, report, and troubleshoot in order to make proactive decisions about the health, performance, and utilization of storage. Most enterprises combine cloud and on-premise storage, resulting in blended environments of physical, virtual, cloud, and other platforms, which justifies more sophisticated storage analytics. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Peter McCallum, Vice President of Datacenter Solutions at FalconStor, will discuss using predictive analytics to ...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
Father business cycles and digital consumers are forcing enterprises to respond faster to customer needs and competitive demands. Successful integration of DevOps and Agile development will be key for business success in today’s digital economy. In his session at DevOps Summit, Pradeep Prabhu, Co-Founder & CEO of Cloudmunch, covered the critical practices that enterprises should consider to seamlessly integrate Agile and DevOps processes, barriers to implementing this in the enterprise, and pr...
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
It's easy to assume that your app will run on a fast and reliable network. The reality for your app's users, though, is often a slow, unreliable network with spotty coverage. What happens when the network doesn't work, or when the device is in airplane mode? You get unhappy, frustrated users. An offline-first app is an app that works, without error, when there is no network connection.
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
More and more companies are looking to microservices as an architectural pattern for breaking apart applications into more manageable pieces so that agile teams can deliver new features quicker and more effectively. What this pattern has done more than anything to date is spark organizational transformations, setting the foundation for future application development. In practice, however, there are a number of considerations to make that go beyond simply “build, ship, and run,” which changes ho...
With the proliferation of both SQL and NoSQL databases, organizations can now target specific fit-for-purpose database tools for their different application needs regarding scalability, ease of use, ACID support, etc. Platform as a Service offerings make this even easier now, enabling developers to roll out their own database infrastructure in minutes with minimal management overhead. However, this same amount of flexibility also comes with the challenges of picking the right tool, on the right ...
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
In most cases, it is convenient to have some human interaction with a web (micro-)service, no matter how small it is. A traditional approach would be to create an HTTP interface, where user requests will be dispatched and HTML/CSS pages must be served. This approach is indeed very traditional for a web site, but not really convenient for a web service, which is not intended to be good looking, 24x7 up and running and UX-optimized. Instead, talking to a web service in a chat-bot mode would be muc...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint Systems, Inc., a provider of innovative web and infrastructure monitoring solutions, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit at 18th Cloud Expo New York, which will take place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into customer-critical services to help consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed...
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies adopt disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevO...
SYS-CON Events announced today that iDevices®, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. iDevices, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, has a growing line of HomeKit-enabled products available at the largest retailers worldwide. Through the “Designed with iDevices” co-development program and its custom-built IoT Cloud Infrastruc...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
Advances in technology and ubiquitous connectivity have made the utilization of a dispersed workforce more common. Whether that remote team is located across the street or country, management styles/ approaches will have to be adjusted to accommodate this new dynamic. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Sagi Brody, Chief Technology Officer at Webair Internet Development Inc., focused on the challenges of managing remote teams, providing real-world examples that demonstrate what works and what do...