Welcome!

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

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

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
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...
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
Data-as-a-Service is the complete package for the transformation of raw data into meaningful data assets and the delivery of those data assets. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lakshmi Randall, an industry expert, analyst and strategist, will address: What is DaaS (Data-as-a-Service)? Challenges addressed by DaaS Vendors that are enabling DaaS Architecture options for DaaS
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid 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. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn’t require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbuilding of data centers ...
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...
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 ...
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...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, 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. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
Recognizing the need to identify and validate information security professionals’ competency in securing cloud services, the two leading membership organizations focused on cloud and information security, the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) and (ISC)^2, joined together to develop an international cloud security credential that reflects the most current and comprehensive best practices for securing and optimizing cloud computing environments.
Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of 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, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
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...
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...
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...