Networking & Wireless

Internet2 Implements Open Source SDN Networking OS

It's alive! A software defined networking (SDN) operating system has been deployed to a "virtual slice" of Internet2's national education network and turned on. Five institutional customers have already lined up to use it.

SDN uses a stack architecture to abstract the complexity of the physical network and enable changes programmatically without technical people having to touch the underlying operating systems or protocols running on various components.

The ONOS project is specifically developing an open source SDN networking operating system for service provider networks, such as the one run by Internet2 and its hosting site, GlobalNOC at Indiana University. The ONOS OS went live in December and since then various use cases have been implemented on it, including a graphical user interface that provides a view of the multi-layer network and "northbound abstractions" that allow applications and orchestration systems to program the network and request services from it.

In the latest iteration, Internet2 is using the capabilities of SDN to provision virtual networks based on FlowSpace Firewall. The goal of that open source module is to provide the ability for multiple controllers to control a single OpenFlow switch without stepping on each other's flow rules. An ONOS cluster is deployed on the Internet2 network, controlling 38 OpenFlow-enabled Brocade and Juniper Network switches.

An SDN IP peering application deployed atop ONOS connects and exchanges traffic with other, traditional networks. That capability will enable operators to start the SDN deployment in any isolated environment and then leverage an SDN-IP peering type of application to connect this "SDN island" to the rest of the network and gradually expand it to the entire network at any pace. The hope for the centralized control plane is that its use will lead to significant improvements in network operation efficiency of the whole Internet2 network.

Five institutions — Duke University, Florida International University, the Indiana U GigaPoP Network Operations Center, the University of Maryland and the University of Utah — are connected to the ONOS project network.

"A primary feature of the Internet2 Network is its ability to serve as a 'playground' for piloting new advanced networking capabilities in a real-world environment with demanding users and advanced applications capabilities," said Rob Vietzke, vice president of network services at Internet2. "The ONOS and SDN-IP peering deployment is another demonstration of how Internet2 and the academic community continue to be a large scale platform in which pre-market innovations can be prototyped at scale."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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