Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Skytap Blog, Carmen Gonzalez, Lori MacVittie, Pete Pickerill, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Java, Linux, Virtualization, Cloud Expo, 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
ScriptRock makes GuardRail, a DevOps-ready platform for configuration monitoring. Realizing we were spending way too much time digging up, cataloguing, and tracking machine configurations, we began writing our own scripts and tools to handle what is normally an enormous chore. Then we took the concept a step further, giving it a beautiful interface and making it simple enough for our bosses to understand. We named it GuardRail after its function - to allow businesses to move fast and stay sa...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudian, Inc., the leading provider of hybrid cloud storage solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloudian, Inc., is a Foster City, California - based software company specializing in cloud storage software. The main product is Cloudian, an Amazon S3-compliant cloud object storage platform, the bedrock of cloud computing systems, that enables c...
SYS-CON Media announced today that Sematext launched a popular blog feed on DevOps Journal with over 6,000 story reads over the weekend. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. DevOps Journal brings valuable information to DevOps professionals who are transforming the way enterprise IT is done. Sematext is a globally distributed organization that builds innovative Cloud and On Premises solutions for performance monitoring, alerting an...
SYS-CON Events announced today Isomorphic Software, the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications, will exhibit at SYS-CON's DevOps Summit 2015 New York, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Isomorphic Software is the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications. We develop, market, and support the SmartClient & Smart GWT HTML5/Ajax platform, combining the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software ...
Leysin American School is an exclusive, private boarding school located in Leysin, Switzerland. Leysin selected an OpenStack-powered, private cloud as a service to manage multiple applications and provide development environments for students across the institution. Seeking to meet rigid data sovereignty and data integrity requirements while offering flexible, on-demand cloud resources to users, Leysin identified OpenStack as the clear choice to round out the school's cloud strategy. Additional...
The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, p...
In high-production environments where release cycles are measured in hours or minutes — not days or weeks — there's little room for mistakes and no room for confusion. Everyone has to understand what's happening, in real time, and have the means to do whatever is necessary to keep applications up and running optimally. DevOps is a high-stakes world, but done well, it delivers the agility and performance to significantly impact business competitiveness.
"Our premise is Docker is not enough. That's not a bad thing - we actually love Docker. At ActiveState all our products are based on open source technology and Docker is an up-and-coming piece of open source technology," explained Bart Copeland, President & CEO of ActiveState Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover ...
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com...
Verizon Enterprise Solutions is simplifying the cloud-purchasing experience for its clients, with the launch of Verizon Cloud Marketplace, a key foundational component of the company's robust ecosystem of enterprise-class technologies. The online storefront will initially feature pre-built cloud-based services from AppDynamics, Hitachi Data Systems, Juniper Networks, PfSense and Tervela. Available globally to enterprises using Verizon Cloud, Verizon Cloud Marketplace provides a one-stop shop fo...
The move in recent years to cloud computing services and architectures has added significant pace to the application development and deployment environment. When enterprise IT can spin up large computing instances in just minutes, developers can also design and deploy in small time frames that were unimaginable a few years ago. The consequent move toward lean, agile, and fast development leads to the need for the development and operations sides to work very closely together. Thus, DevOps become...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada...
SYS-CON Events announced today that AIC, a leading provider of OEM/ODM server and storage solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. AIC is a leading provider of both standard OTS, off-the-shelf, and OEM/ODM server and storage solutions. With expert in-house design capabilities, validation, manufacturing and production, AIC's broad selection of products are highly flexible and are conf...

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's

AppZero has announced that its award-winning application migration software is now fully qualified within the Microsoft Azure Certified program. AppZero has undergone extensive technical evaluation with Microsoft Corp., earning its designation as Microsoft Azure Certified. As a result of AppZero's work with Microsoft, customers are able to easily find, purchase and deploy AppZero from the Azure Marketplace. With just a few clicks, users have an Azure-based solution for moving applications to the...
“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 SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The cloud is becoming the de-facto way for enterprises to leverage common infrastructure while innovating and one of the biggest obstacles facing public cloud computing is security. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Jeff Aliber, a global marketing executive at Verizon, discussed how the best place for web security is in the cloud. Benefits include: Functions as the first layer of defense Easy operation –CNAME change Implement an integrated solution Best architecture for addressing network-l...