The most common software-defined networking operating systems rely on industry-standard or “open” switch hardware. When the term “Open Networking” is used, it typically refers to the ability of an switch operating system to run on top of one of these industry-standard “open” switches. The idea of open is not new, as networks have boasted open protocol supports for 25+ years. What is new in the open network discussions is it now applies to both hardware and software.
As a point of reference, this same approach to open computing was realized in the earlier 1990s when Linux and general putposed x86 server hardware platforms began shipping in volume. The two combined amount to what many referred to as open computing. Today, the switch marketplace is following this same path.
Funded by mega-companies such as Microsoft, Facebook and Google, the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is an organization focused on improving all aspects of networking through SDN and associated technologies. Developed by individuals realizing the impact of cloud computing on maintaining the separation of networks and computers, ONF endeavors to facilitate modernization via straightforward software modifications in data centers, telecommunications and wireless networks. The efforts of the ONF take commercial form in the availability of truly dis-aggregated data center switching solutions, comprised of switch operating systems from one vendor, and switch hardware platforms from another
The Open Compute Project (OCP) emerged from the efforts of Facebook administrators to build customized servers and software and data center components capable of addressing increasingly rigorous demands of networked infrastructures. Since most data centers must buy and utilize large numbers of all-purpose servers, they often suffer the negative effects of vendor-specific hardware acquisition, include costs, footprint and energy requirements.
Over the past few years, the OCP has acquired members like Goldman Sachs, Fidelity and Rackspace, while collaborating with additional open source software proposals to help promote development of cost-effective and energy-saving servers. Complementary working groups in the OCP organization took the same approach to open switching and released OCP-certified switching designs, currently available form more than a dozen hardware vendors.The implementation of a software-defined networking operating system by Pluribus Networks offers OCP compatibility, as well as all the advantages that comes with SDN solutions.
In an abstract sense, ONIE is a network operating system installer employed by multiple whitebox switching manufacturers for the sole purpose of enabling the loading a network OS onto their whitebox switches. It is the most primitive portion of the OCP open switching hardware specification and identifies the specific means in which any switch operating system must be built and packaged to install and boot on an OCP-compliant hardware switch. In the real world, ONIE is commonly referred to as a firmware-based bare-metal bootstrap loader which is used at the moment of device power-on to boot a much larger, full featured operating system, such as Open Netvisor Linux (ONVL) from Pluribus.
Users of whitebox switches count on the inclusion of the ONIE bootstrap loaders because they can choose any compatible network operating system they desire, and change it again over time without changing a switch. (much like any server user can initially install Linux on a server device, and the re-install Windows on the same hardware device as needs change).
Service providers, enterprises and even government agencies are starting to use OpenStack, an open source software controlling large amounts of networking, storage and computing resources within datacenters. Ideal for integrating with heterogeneous infrastructures, OpenStack works easily with other open source and enterprise technologies.
However, OpenStack does present security risks that traditional security methods (firewalls) cannot control. For data centers employing OpenStack, Pluribus provides enhanced SDN security tools capable of protecting east/west traffic from cyber-threats.
For more information about software-defined networking, open source systems and how you can receive professional assistance with SDN problems, please contact Pluribus Systems today at 855.GET.VNET.