Click here to close now.

Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Java IoT, @MicroservicesE Blog, Linux Containers, @ContainersExpo Blog, CloudExpo® Blog

SDN Journal: Blog Post

Open Compute, Open Switch API and Open Network Install Environment

The focus of OCP has been mostly around hardware designs and specifications

Much has been published about the Open Compute Project. Initiated by Facebook, it has become an industry effort focused on standardization of many parts and components in the datacenter. Initially focused on racks, power and server design, it has also added storage and now networking to its fold. Its goal is fairly straightforward: “how can we design the most efficient compute infrastructure possible”, a direct quote from its web site.

The focus of OCP has been mostly around hardware designs and specifications. If you look at the networking arm of OCP, you find several Top of Rack (ToR) ethernet switch hardware designs donated by the likes of Broadcom, Mellanox and Intel. By creating open specifications of hardware designs for fairly standard ethernet switches, the industry can standardize on these designs and economics of scale would drive down the cost to create and maintain this hardware. A noble goal and there are many opinions on both sides of this effort. Mostly referred to as “bare metal” and “commodity”, you can easily spend days reading up on many opinions. Mike Bushong yesterday discussed pricing implications for resellers in this blog post.

An interesting development however is that the network group within OCP has added a few software projects to its scope. Mellanox has initiated an Open Switch API specification, which attempts to standardize the lowest layer of interaction with the actual ethernet switching hardware. As a hardware vendor today, the choice of switching chipset is an important one beyond just the raw capabilities of the chipset. Each chip vendor that has a portfolio of chipsets also has a Software Development Kit or SDK that provides the initial layer of software to instruct the chip what to do. Ultimately every chip is manipulated with a (rather large) set of registers that need to be set, but that complexity is hidden in this SDK. The SDK presents a set of higher level APIs to program against that control the functioning of the chipset. This is what we (Plexxi) and all other hardware vendors write our software against, this is how we glue our software to the ethernet switching hardware.

Different chipset vendors of course have different SDKs, which makes changing chipsets a non-trivial step to take, your software has to adjust to a different SDK with all its functional and sometimes architectural differences. By creating a common switch API, life for us would be better, we would have a single API to develop against and could easily support multiple chipsets since the differences would be hidden behind this API. With so much functional difference between the chipset vendors, even these APIs will have lots of vendor specific extensions in them, but as recipients of such standardization, we can only welcome the effort.

The second software component the networking arm of OCP has taken on is the Open Network Install Environment. ONIE is a boot loader and installer based on a complete, but narrow linux distribution. ONIE was created as an open source, vendor agnostic boot loader with the desire to have these commodity switches leave their factory with only ONIE installed. Driven by Cumulus it creates a convenient and standard method to get software installed and loaded onto bare metal switches from commodity hardware providers. It’s a necessary piece for Cumulus’ business to ensure easy installation of their software onto third party hardware.

ONIE is pretty straight forward and those that use net booting using DHCP, TFTP and a variety of other means will probably say “what’s the big deal”? At a high level, it really provides the same functionality, but with some small, but very relevant differences.

ONIE is built on a full linux distribution. So out of the gate, switches with ONIE installed will boot to a complete linux before they even attempt to find the actual switching software image they ultimately will run. Having a full linux means you have full networking support, you can access the device using telnet, ssh, you name it. Once booted, ONIE will follow a set of search rules to find an image to download and install. There is no pre-conceived notion of what that image is, or what needs to be done to install it, the image itself contains the instructions of how this image needs to be installed, how the internal disk should be formatted,which partition to install into, you name it. ONIE has none of that knowledge, it just has the linux tools to do it. Once a switching software image has been installed, ONIE will reboot the switch again and now boot right through to the software image installed (with of course a chance to interrupt that).

A bit of boot loader, installer and some may even want to call it BIOS, all wrapped together in a linux distribution, ONIE is not magic, it’s not radically innovative. But it is a very convenient and open source way to get switches to boot, find, install and run software all with the safety-net of linux to get into the switch remotely if the software loading, installation or execution really goes bad. I bet most of you have had switches in crash and boot loops before, and they are hard to recover from without physical intervention.

At Plexxi we do not create standard switching hardware, that should be clear. We also don’t create standard switching software for commodity switches. But we are implementing ONIE on our switches and packaging our software to be ONIE installable, available a bit later this year.

For us this is a very convenient and (on its way to being industry) standardized way to implement a boot loading and installation environment that fits well with our open source and linux roots and beliefs. For us this is about providing convenience to our customers and logistics teams. We will have the option to ship our switches with ONIE so that the customer can simply power the switch on, plug in the management ethernet connection, connect our LightRail optical cables and the switch becomes part of a Plexxi ring loaded with the right software, visible to our controller.

It’s not a huge innovative leap, but it’s a significant convenience. And there is lots of value in creating convenience and simplicity, they are significant drivers in our overall solution. Which makes ONIE a nice fit.

The post Open Compute, Open Switch API and Open Network Install Environment 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
Compute virtualization has been transformational, yet security policy implementation and enforcement has lagged behind in agility and automation. There are a number of key considerations when implementing policy in private and hybrid clouds. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Malcolm Rieke, the Director of Product Management at Catbird, discussed the impact of this new paradigm and what organizations can do today to safely move to software-defined network and compute architectures, including: ...
Cloud and Big Data present unique dilemmas: embracing the benefits of these new technologies while maintaining the security of your organization's assets. When an outside party owns, controls and manages your infrastructure and computational resources, how can you be assured that sensitive data remains private and secure? How do you best protect data in mixed use cloud and big data infrastructure sets? Can you still satisfy the full range of reporting, compliance and regulatory requirements? In...
In this scenarios approach Joe Thykattil, Technology Architect & Sales at TimeWarner / Navisite, presented examples that will allow business-savvy professionals to make informed decisions based on a sound business model. This model covered the technology options in detail as well as a financial analysis. The TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) and ROI (Return on Investment) demonstrated how to start, develop and formulate a business case that will allow both small and large scale projects to achieve...
The move to the cloud brings a number of new security challenges, but the application remains your last line of defense. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Arthur Hicken, Evangelist at Parasoft, discussed how developers are extremely well-poised to perform tasks critical for securing the application – provided that certain key obstacles are overcome. Arthur Hicken has been involved in automating various practices at Parasoft for almost 20 years. He has worked on projects including database dev...
Building low-cost wearable devices can enhance the quality of our lives. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Sai Yamanoor, Embedded Software Engineer at Altschool, provided an example of putting together a small keychain within a $50 budget that educates the user about the air quality in their surroundings. He also provided examples such as building a wearable device that provides transit or recreational information. He then reviewed the resources available to build wearable devices at ...
There has been a lot of discussion recently in the DevOps space over whether there is a unique form of DevOps for large enterprises or is it just vendors looking to sell services and tools. In his session at DevOps Summit, Chris Riley, a technologist, discussed whether Enterprise DevOps is a unique species or not. What makes DevOps adoption in the enterprise unique or what doesn’t? Unique or not, what does this mean for adopting DevOps in enterprise size organizations? He also explored differe...
Storage administrators find themselves walking a line between meeting employees’ demands to use public cloud storage services, and their organizations’ need to store information on-premises for security, performance, cost and compliance reasons. However, as file sharing protocols like CIFS and NFS continue to lose their relevance, simply relying only on a NAS-based environment creates inefficiencies that hurt productivity and the bottom line. IT wants to implement cloud storage it can purchase a...
The emergence of cloud computing and Big Data warrants a greater role for the PMO to successfully manage enterprise transformation driven by these powerful trends. As the adoption of cloud-based services continues to grow, a governance model is needed to orchestrate enterprise cloud implementations and harness the power of Big Data analytics. In his session at Cloud Expo, Mahesh Singh, President of BigData, Inc., discussed how the Enterprise PMO takes center stage not only in developing the app...
Cloud Foundry open Platform as a Service makes it easy to operate, scale and deploy application for your dedicated cloud environments. It enables developers and operators to be significantly more agile, writing great applications and deliver them in days instead of months. Cloud Foundry takes care of all the infrastructure and network plumbing that you need to build, run and operate your applications and can do this while patching and updating systems and services without any downtime.
Are your Big Data initiatives resulting in Big Impact or Big Mess? In her session at Big Data Expo, Penelope Everall Gordon, Emerging Technology Strategist at 1Plug Corporation, shared her successes in improving Big Decision outcomes by building stories compelling to the target audience – and her failures when she lost sight of the plotline, distracted by the glitter of technology and the lure of buried insights. The cast of characters includes the agency head [city official? elected official?...
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial C...
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC 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. BMC delivers software solutions that help IT transform digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive business advantage. BMC has worked with thousands of leading companies to create and deliver powerful IT management services. From mainframe to cloud to mobile, BMC pairs high-speed digital innovation with robust...
After a couple of false starts, cloud-based desktop solutions are picking up steam, driven by trends such as BYOD and pervasive high-speed connectivity. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Seth Bostock, CEO of IndependenceIT, cut through the hype and the acronyms, and discussed the emergence of full-featured cloud workspaces that do for the desktop what cloud infrastructure did for the server. He also discussed VDI vs DaaS, implementation strategies and evaluation criteria.
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core...
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happe...
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective ...
Collecting data in the field and configuring multitudes of unique devices is a time-consuming, labor-intensive process that can stretch IT resources. Horan & Bird [H&B], Australia’s fifth-largest Solar Panel Installer, wanted to automate sensor data collection and monitoring from its solar panels and integrate the data with its business and marketing systems. After data was collected and structured, two major areas needed to be addressed: improving developer workflows and extending access to a b...
When an enterprise builds a hybrid IaaS cloud connecting its data center to one or more public clouds, security is often a major topic along with the other challenges involved. Security is closely intertwined with the networking choices made for the hybrid cloud. Traditional networking approaches for building a hybrid cloud try to kludge together the enterprise infrastructure with the public cloud. Consequently this approach requires risky, deep "surgery" including changes to firewalls, subnets...
Move from reactive to proactive cloud management in a heterogeneous cloud infrastructure. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Manoj Khabe, Innovative Solution-Focused Transformation Leader at Vicom Computer Services, Inc., will show how to replace a help desk-centric approach with an ITIL-based service model and service-centric CMDB that’s tightly integrated with an event and incident management platform. Learn how to expand the scope of operations management to service management. He will al...
2015 predictions circa 1970: houses anticipate our needs and adapt, city infrastructure is citizen and situation aware, office buildings identify and preprocess you. Today smart buildings have no such collective conscience, no shared set of fundamental services to identify, predict and synchronize around us. LiveSpace and M2Mi are changing that. LiveSpace Smart Environment devices deliver over the M2Mi IoT Platform real time presence, awareness and intent analytics as a service to local connecte...